PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A successful Rhode Island high school basketball coach was criminally charged Thursday by authorities who say that for years he asked male student-athletes to remove their clothes while alone with him so he could check their body fat.
Aaron Thomas, 55, who coached at North Kingstown High School from the 1990s until he resigned last year, faces second-degree child molestation and second-degree sexual assault charges, Attorney General Peter Neronha and North Kingstown Police Chief Patrick Flanagan said in a statement.
Arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 19.
Thomas, through his lawyer, denied wrongdoing.
“Aaron Thomas adamantly denies that any criminal activity took place,” attorney John E. MacDonald said in a statement. “The sole purpose of the testing program was to better the athletic performance of North Kingstown High School’s student-athletes. Hundreds of student-athletes participated in this program over the course of many years and greatly benefited from it.”
Although Thomas is alleged to have performed the tests on multiple students, the charges relate to alleged sexual contact with two, authorities said. One was under age 14 at the time of the alleged crime between September 2000 and February 2002, authorities said.
The other case dates to some time between September 2019 and February 2020, they said.
The criminal investigation started in November and involved interviews with more than 30 former students, as well as teachers, coaches, administrators and medical professionals.
The former coach and the school are also facing lawsuits from several former students, and federal prosecutors are also investigating.