A former Boulder youth hockey coach admitted having online chats where he asked players to send him nude photos and challenged the young teens to masturbation races on Facebook, according to a newly released police report.
Zachary Meints, 24, was arrested by Boulder police in December on five felony counts of Internet sexual exploitation of a child. Meints, who remains free on $35,000 bond, is scheduled for arraignment on May 30.
Police said Meints began the lurid online communication with boys as young as 13 in 2009 when Meints was an assistant coach with the Boulder Hockey Club, according to the recently unsealed arrest affidavit. His alleged conduct continued when he moved to the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders youth hockey club, police said.
Both hockey clubs are owned and operated by the nonprofit Boulder Valley Hockey Foundation, according to its website.
Law enforcement first heard the accusations in September when Jon Paris, a fellow RoughRiders coach, reported to the FBI that he become suspicious when he overheard Meints having phone chats with players who weren't on his team, according to the affidavit written by Boulder police Detective Kurt Foster.
On Sept. 11, 2011, Paris overheard players talking about Meints and he asked a boy about it.
The boy told Paris that Meints would call or text him to talk about hockey, but then shift the conversation to sexual innuendo and ask the boy to send him naked photos of himself on Facebook, according to a copy of the affidavit, where authorities blacked out the names of the boys and their parents.
Foster later interviewed a boy, who said Meints began the sexually explicit communications when the boy was 14 years old in early 2009, the affidavit said.
The boy said he remembered the time well because Meints came onto him just weeks after his mother died, the affidavit said.
The boy said the coach texted him with questions about masturbation and about the size of his penis, the affidavit said. Meints also asked the boy to send him a photo of his penis.
The grieving boy told the investigator he was very depressed and had been taking Ambien because he was having trouble sleeping.
The boy said he sent Meints a photo of himself posing naked, but that was the only time he did that, the affidavit. However, the boy said Meints had kept sending him similar texts, emails and Facebook messages right up to the time when the investigation began.
Investigators began contacting other hockey-playing boys and their parents, including a mother who said her son stopped using Facebook because Meints kept sending the boy sexual messages, the affidavit said.
The mother told police her son said that more than two years earlier, when he was 13 or 14, Meints had sent him Facebook messages asking the boy about his penis size, masturbation and requesting photographs of the boy's penis, the affidavit said. The mother said Meints' conduct was first brought to her attention by another boy who was her son's age.
On Oct. 3, police said they obtained a warrant to search Meints' Aztec Drive home for computers, cellphones and other devices that might contain evidence.
When Meints returned home and Foster explained what they were searching for, the young coach appeared anxious, his hands and legs began trembling and red splotches appeared on his throat, detective Foster wrote in the affidavit.
During an interview that day, Foster told the coach there had been allegations of inappropriate communication between himself and his players.
Meints said there had been "talk about being naked in the room," the affidavit said. He explained that this was very common "locker room talk," and that he communicated with players via Facebook instant messaging or text messaging.
Meints told the detective that he had asked players how often they masturbated each day and they had replied to him.
Foster asked who had replied, and Meints said it was a 19-year-old player.
Meints also admitted he had sent a couple messages asking a player about the size of his penis, the affidavit said.
"He said that he had asked, 'How big are you' and 'Are you big?'" the affidavit said.
"(Meints) explained that he had challenged players on two occasions to a masturbation race while communicating with them on Facebook," the affidavit said.
"He said he had not actually masturbated, but joked that he wanted the player to send him a picture of his penis after he had ejaculated to prove that he had finished and the race was over. Meints denied ever touching any player inappropriately," the affidavit said.
At the time of Meints' arrest, police said they have interviewed 13 potential victims/witnesses. Five of those victims were under the age of 15 at the time the alleged exploitation occurred, police said.
Several boys told investigators that Meints sent Facebook messages that discussed sex toys or contained links to pornographic websites, the affidavit said.
A number of boys, including one who called the coach's messages "disgusting," told police they eventually blocked Meints from their Facebook accounts, the affidavit said. One said Meints stopped messaging him after the boy threatened to call police.
Many of the boys also said that Meints never discussed sex with them in person.
A mother told 7NEWS two of her children received inappropriate sexual messages from the Boulder coach.
The first time it happened was two years ago in Boulder with her older son, the mother said.
The woman, who did not want her name used, said her youngest son now plays in Westminster and received a text message from Meints a few months ago.
"Youre surprised to hear that happens, especially because hes a nice kid, you see him every day," she said. "He was asking the boys to send him pictures of themselves
and then offering, you know in exchange, money and paid porno sites."
The mother said her sons ignored the messages and didnt say much until the police came to talk to them.
"Part of me was surprised, part of me wasn't," she said. "I mean they had talked (and) you know he did make them uncomfortable."
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