A tennis instructor is accused of sexually assaulting a student at a Norwalk tennis center.
The victim told police the abuse lasted for years, and reported the first one three years ago but when the suspect returned from college she said it happened again.
Norwalk Grassroots Tennis is a non-profit for underprivileged children and is a year-round program that offers not just tennis lessons, but tutoring.
It is a place where instructors are seen as mentors.
“It's there to help all the children in the neighborhood,” said Miriam Traore, a Grassroots parent.
The tight knit community is now dealing with the fact that a longtime member and recent member allegedly sexually assaulted one of his students.
Maurice Thomas-Riley, 20, is facing serious charges stemming from allegations that he forced oral sex on a then 12-year-old.
Traore said she has three girls in the program and she couldn’t believe the alleged assaults may have happened when her children were there.
Thomas-Riled started at Grassroots as a child and stay connected with the program and became a mentor.
The victim said Thomas-Riley first approached her after class. She said he would wrestle everyone so at first she “thought they were wrestling like they always did,” according to court documents.
However, she said it quickly turned violent with Thomas-Riley allegedly covering her mouth, pushing her to the ground, and began touching her in places “where you shouldn’t be touched.”
The victim said she was assaulted once and then Thomas-Riley went to college but when he returned this year he allegedly picked up where he left off, assaulting the victim three more times before she went to superiors at the program, and her family.
“We shouldn't have issues like this around. It's really scary,” Traore said.
Administrators said Thomas-Riley resigned as soon as the allegations surfaced.
After police interviewed other workers who confirmed they saw inappropriate text messages and pictures sent to other students, the 20-year-old was arrested.
He was charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor.
Shocked parents said they have spoken with their students, reinforcing lifelong lessons taught years ago.
“Anything that happens, make sure you report it right away, don't give a second chance,” Traore said.
Thomas-Riley will face a judge in the coming weeks.
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