HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that two coaches from the Portage Area High School wrestling team have been charged with Solicitation of Child Pornography and Corruption of Minors, after an investigation that started with a Safe2Say tip.
Michael Fox, head coach and a teacher, and Bradley Roussell, assistant coach of the Portage Area High School wrestling team, were arrested Friday. The coaches are charged with requesting to see and view naked images of minor females that wrestling team members had on their cell phones.
“What these coaches did was not only an abuse of power, but a violation of trust to the faculty and students at Portage High School,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Forcing students to share pornographic photos with their adult coaches is disturbing, illegal and abusive to the young adults they were supposed to be mentors to. Instead of coaching these boys how to be responsible young men, they used them. I will always stand up to protect children across our Commonwealth.”
The images were shared on several occasions, during the 2018 and 2019 December annual West Mifflin Wrestling Tournament in Allegheny County. These images would be shared during what was described as a mandatory team bonding meeting in one of the coaches’ hotel rooms. The defendants would start pressuring student athletes to bring photos of female classmates several days or weeks in advance, with Fox and Rousell asking their athletes if they “got pics” and that they should “better be getting them ready” prior to the tournament. The sharing of these images at this tournament was described as a tradition by both current and former varsity wrestlers.
During these team meetings in both 2018 and 2019, Fox and Rousell would discuss very specific details about sexual encounters they had with different women and would ask students about their own sexual experiences and ask specific questions about the wrestlers’ current girlfriends. Two students told investigators that Fox had directed them to get images of a specific female student, for Fox’s viewing, on multiple occasions. Fox and Rousell would also ask team members to confirm the identity of the female students whose photos were being shown.
A common theme described by current and former varsity wrestlers was that Rousell would state that the West Mifflin Wrestling Tournament is “where boys become men,” referring to the sharing of naked images of female classmates along with explicit sexual talk and stories that Fox and Rousell shared with the wrestlers.
All charges discussed are accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Chuck Washburn.
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