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. ••