A girls basketball coach in Southern Calif. was arrested Sunday on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with one of his players when she was underage.
According to a police report obtained by the Orange County Register, Segerstrom (Santa Ana, Calif.) girls basketball coach Tracey Stephan Fulford was arrested on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a student-athlete when she was underage.
Per the Register, a 19-year-old woman went to Santa Ana police with her parents on Saturday to report that, when she was a 16-year-old student and basketball player at Segerstrom, she was involved in a sexual relationship with Fulford, now 52.
“The victim reported that during (one-on-one) basketball lessons, she willingly followed Fulford into a storage room and other locations in the school gymnasium, and they would engage in inappropriate sexual acts,” Santa Ana police said in a statement, per the Register.
According to the report, the relationship continued after she turned 18 and then became a consensual, off-campus relationship.
The woman, who was not publicly identified by police, told officers that last Friday she met with the Segerstrom coaching staff to report the relationship. She told police that she felt the staff was trying to “discourage” her from speaking out about the relationship, so she went to police.
Santa Ana Unified School District officials released a statement obtained by the Register that said they are cooperating with the police investigation.
“SAUSD will thoroughly investigate any allegations of any employee who fails to report or protect the safety and well-being of its students,” district spokeswoman Deidra Powell said in a statement. “These allegations are being taken seriously and are in direct conflict of the district’s zero-tolerance policy relating to staff misconduct.”
Fulford is being held on suspicion of child molestation, lewd conduct and distributing harmful matter to a child. Jail records obtained by the Register showed his bail amount was $50,000.
The Register reports that Fulford also coached track and field and was with the district for about 37 years.