A coach in an AAU girl’s basketball program founded by a former WNBA player was charged Tuesday with child enticement for the alleged sexual abuse of three players and the FBI is asking for help from the public to find possible victims and witnesses.
Danny Lawhorn, 30, of Hartford, who was already in custody on state charges of second-degree sexual assault, was charged federally with distributing narcotics.
Lawhorn was a coach in the Bria Holmes Elite AAU program. He is accused of assaulting a team member who was staying at his home in June after asking her for a massage, according to court documents that were unsealed Tuesday.
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The FBI website refers to Lawhorn as a former Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball coach and basketball trainer.
Two former players from the program later came forward to say they had been abused by Lawhorn in 2017 and 2019, federal prosecutors said. Both girls, who were under the age of 18 at the time, said Lawhorn also asked for a massage before he sexually assaulted them, according to court documents.
Messages seeking comment Tuesday from Lawhorn’s attorney, Jon Schoenhorn, were not immediately returned, the Associated Press reports. Schoenhorn told The Hartford Courant that his client denies the allegations and intends to plead not guilty.
Lawhorn was removed as a coach by Bria Holmes Elite after his arrest in June on state charges. He had coached multiple teams for the program founded by Holmes, a former Connecticut high school star who went on to play at West Virginia and in the WNBA.
The Associated Press left a message Tuesday seeking comment from Holmes and the program.
On Thursday, the New Haven Field Division of the FBI called upon the public for help to find possible victims and witnesses to what they called the alleged sexual enticement of basketball players by AAU basketball coach Mr. Danny Lawhorn.
During a news conference on Friday morning, FBI officials said the allegations go back several years they are aware of “quite a few victims.”
Prosecutors said the drug charges stem from Lawhorn’s Oct. 5 arrest by Hartford police, during which he possessed about 300 wax sleeves believed to contain fentanyl, according to the federal complaint.
Anyone with information about the ongoing investigation of Lawhorn is asked to call the FBI information line (203) 503-5593 or visit www.fbi.gov/DannyLawhorn. They said information will be held in the strictest of confidence.
Lawhorn is due back in court for a hearing on Friday.