Former coach faces new child sex charges

Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams on Tues­day an­nounced a 55-count grand jury in­dict­ment of a youth foot­ball coach with North­east ties for the al­leged sexu­al ab­use of five boys and a dis­abled man.

Le­on Wat­son, 24, resided on the 2400 block of W. Dia­mond St. in North Philly, but he formerly served as a vo­lun­teer coach with the Rhawn­hurst Raid­ers pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to the pro­sec­utor. The youth sports or­gan­iz­a­tion has denied that Wat­son ever was an of­fi­cial coach there, al­though he had brought boys to Raid­ers’ prac­tices and had been per­mit­ted to par­ti­cip­ate in team drills.

Wat­son was also the founder and dir­ect­or of the “Little Vicks” foot­ball team in his home neigh­bor­hood.

Po­lice ar­res­ted Wat­son in Novem­ber after a tip­ster in­formed au­thor­it­ies of his al­leged ab­use of two boys who were in­volved in the Little Vicks. In Decem­ber, Wil­li­ams filed more charges against Wat­son after the four ad­di­tion­al vic­tims came for­ward. Au­thor­it­ies have not iden­ti­fied any vic­tims as par­ti­cipants in the Rhawn­hurst pro­gram.

The pro­sec­utor chose to sub­mit the case to a grand jury as an al­tern­at­ive to a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing, where the vul­ner­able vic­tims likely would’ve had to testi­fy in open court with the de­fend­ant present. Con­versely, grand jury pro­ceed­ings are not open to the pub­lic and vic­tims or wit­nesses do not have to testi­fy in front of the de­fend­ant.

Wat­son has been charged with mul­tiple counts of child rape, rape by for­cible com­pul­sion, in­de­cent as­sault, sexu­al as­sault, in­de­cent ex­pos­ure, reck­less en­dan­ger­ment, un­law­ful con­tact with minors and re­lated of­fenses.

Wat­son al­legedly in­vited at least some of the vic­tims to his home, where the as­saults took place, au­thor­it­ies have said.

The de­fend­ant is in Phil­adelphia Pris­on Sys­tem cus­tody without bail pending a Feb. 24 tri­al court ar­raign­ment. ••

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