Club soccer coach faces sex abuse charges

Joseph Leonetti, June 12, 2013 (Courtesy: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office)
Joseph Leonetti, June 12, 2013 (Courtesy: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office)

OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — A longtime club- and high school soccer coach was arrested on a charge of sexually abusing one of his 12-year-old players.

Joseph Leonetti, 43, was arrested at his Oregon City home Wednesday and is held in the Clackamas County Jail on five counts of first-degree sexual abuse. Authorities said the crimes happened in the fall and winter of 2012.

Leonetti once played professional soccer with the Seattle Sounders. He also played for the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1992 to 1996 and likely played games at Jeld-Wen Field.

After retiring he coached the West Linn High School girls soccer team from 1997 to 2006. He then became a well-known youth club soccer coach in Clackamas County. That’s where police say he met his 12-year-old victim.

“I can’t believe it,” said Michelle Zepeda of Oregon City. “Totally shocked”

Zepeda has known professional-soccer-turned-popular-youth-coach Joseph Leonetti for years, and is in disbelief at claims the 43-year-old sexually abused a 12-year-old who played on one of his club soccer teams.

Leonettit was arrested Wednesday at his Oregon City home. The coach is expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Clackamas County court.

Because of his easy access to children, investigators believe that — if the charges are true — there could be more victims.

“Children are one of our most vulnerable populations,” Sgt. Paul Coleman with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office told KOIN 6 News. “We never like to see people in a position of trust violate that trust with the people they’re in charge of.”

Anyone with information can call the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line at 503.723.4949 or text CRIMES (274637) with a tip.

“I was completely in shock,” Zepeda told KOIN 6 News. “I got goose bumps, my mouth dropped open, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, no way.’ He also such a nice guy, just really pleasant — always friendly.'”

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