HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – A Hartford man, who is a former Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach, is facing sexual assault and drug charges.
Danny Lawhorn, 30, was arrested on state charges back on Oct. 5. He’s now facing federal charges.
The federal government says over the span of at least four years, Danny Lawhorn is accused of sexually assaulting his female players.
On Friday, the FBI held a news conference, asking for the public's help in identifying other possible victims and witnesses to the alleged sexual enticement.
It is alleged that Lawhorn, who was the coach for a basketball program that had been registered with the AAU from 2018 to 2020, sexually assaulted a minor involved in the program in the spring of 2021.
A press release said the female victim’s family paid Lawhorn $700 and signed a contract for her to play in the program, which they believed to still be part of the AAU.
Lawhorn and his girlfriend, WNBA player Bria Holmes, served as the minor’s host family and allowed her to live with them in Hartford. Other girls from the program also stayed at the house at times.
When asked if this is a common practice for players, the FBI said it didn't know
“The complaint alleges that in the early morning hours of June 13, 2021, Lawhorn used his cellphone to text the minor a voice message asking her to give him a massage. When the minor went to Lawhorn’s bedroom, he directed her to massage his groin and inner thighs with her hands and, ultimately, sexually assaulted her. Lawhorn was arrested later that morning on related state charges for second degree sexual assault. Prior to his arrest, law enforcement found distribution quantities of crack cocaine in his pocket,” the release said.
The complaint also alleged that two other girls said Lawhorn had repeatedly sexually assaulted them when they played on his AAU team in 2017 and 2019. Both girls, who were under 18 at the time, reported that Lawhorn first asked for a massage before he sexually assaulted them.
The victims are all between the ages of 16 and 17, which Lawhorn’s attorney notes is within the age of consent.
Federal agents argue the acts were not consensual.
In one case, court documents show Lawhorn told the victim: “You owe me for a massage. You’ve been playing for free, you don’t have money for tournaments,” and “it’s time to pay your dues.”
On Oct. 5, Hartford police arrested Lawhorn on three counts of second-degree sexual assault charges for assaulting one of the girls.
When he was arrested, officials said Lawhorn had about 300 wax paper sleeves containing a white powder substance that tested positive for fentanyl.
“The federal complaint charges Lawhorn with enticement and attempted enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”) and fentanyl, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years,” the press release said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Hartford police are investigating.
"I would ask that they please come forward to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else. We will keep their information confidential. They’ll be dealing with agents who are professional and who have dealt with these types of crimes in the past and understand it very well," said FBI Agent Ari Papadacos.
The FBI said the AAU league brings in young athletes from all over the world, so their fear is that victims could be anywhere.
"Some of the students and basketball players at the time were from out of the state and out of the country, so we’re trying to leverage social media to get the message out there," Papadacos said.
Anyone with information relative to the ongoing investigation of Lawhorn can call the FBI information line (203) 503-5593 or click here.