Brevard County coach wanted on cruelty, molestation of minor charges

Police investigate accusations against coach John Hackney

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Titusville police have an arrest warrant out for a former coach at Astronaut High School who is accused of inappropriate conduct while on a youth sports trip.

John Hackney is wanted on charges of cruelty/molestation of a minor, according to a Titusville police news release. Police said an investigation is underway after the alleged incidents, which occurred on a trip to Roswell, Ga. led by Hackney.

While there, parents said he housed three boys together in his room where the teens said he hugged and kissed them.

Roswell Police Department took over the investigation, but said after interviewing the children, no sexual activity occurred.

"He sat in his underwear on the bed, doing that to the kids, how is that not sexual?" said a father of one of the teens involved, who did not want to be identified. "It's aggravating to know someone could take your child out of state and go to a motel room and do what he did and that's all it is. To me, anything on a child where you're making advances to them should be considered a felony and it should go as sexual assault to a child."

Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports that Hackney was assistant coach of the Mighty Mites last year, a youth wrestling club established to help build the program at former state wrestling champion Astronaut High. The club competes regionally and is sanctioned by AAU and USA, and practices in the wrestling room at Astronaut High.

Hackney had guided Astronaut High's wrestling program to a state championship in 1999, had returned in 2007 from a two-year hiatus.

Just over a year later, he was removed from the job in the midst of controversy. Supportive parents and wrestlers gathered at a school board meeting, creating a scene that eventually led to sheriff's deputies being called.

Hackney was initially suspended on Aug. 5, 2008, nine months after a wrestling meet in which a seventh-grader wrestled under another name. Originally removed from the classroom at the same time, the school board later determined Hackney should have been allowed to continue teaching.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

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