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Coach's arrest kept quiet to protect girl, police chief says

| Monday, Dec. 12, 2011

Franklin Park's police chief did not make public the arrest of a basketball coach on charges that he touched a 14-year-old girl inappropriately because, the chief said, he wanted to protect the victim.

Police in April charged Leon Boretzky, 65, of Marshall with one count each of corruption of minors and indecent assault. His bench trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

A criminal complaint states the incidents took place in April in the gym at Franklin Elementary School. The school is part of the North Allegheny School District, but police said Boretzky was coaching an Amateur Athletic Union basketball team for 12- to 14-year-old girls.

"I didn't want to publicize it. I'm worried about the victim. If any of that got out — kids are mean. I'm worried that she wouldn't go through it," Franklin Park police Chief Donald Dorsch said. "I don't want people to berate her at school."

Court papers show that Boretzky pleaded not guilty. Neither he nor his attorney, Michael Witherel, returned a call for comment.

Police say Boretzky coached eight or nine girls who practiced at the school. North Allegheny officials said he is a former North Allegheny coach who was last affiliated with the district in 2006. He coached both middle school girls basketball and middle school boys baseball.

North Allegheny spokeswoman Joy Ed said the district was aware of Boretzky's arrest but did not inform parents or students because the district "was not involved in any way."

"They were simply using our facilities," Ed said.

North Allegheny School Board President Maureen Grosheider referred all comment to Ed.

Police said they notified the AAU of Boretzky's arrest. A call to the national organization was not returned. AAU District President John Roux said Boretzky's name did not appear in his database as an officially AAU-sanctioned coach, and he did not know whether Boretzky continued coaching the other girls after his arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, police said Boretzky started holding private practices in March at Franklin Elementary with one of the girls. She said Boretzky on April 18 placed a $1 bill down her pants and later tried to kiss her.

At another practice, the girl said Boretzky hugged her. Later the girl was lying on her back and Boretzky was stretching her leg up in the air when he massaged her legs to her groin area, according to the complaint.

The girl said the coach kissed her every time she did something good and made several sexual references, including telling her that one exercise was "good for sex," according to the police affidavit.

The affidavit said Boretzky admitted to the allegations with the exception of putting the dollar bill down her pants and attempting to "French kiss" her.

The girl told her parents, who called the police, the complaint said.

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