BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- Police in Boulder are searching for young hockey players who may have been victimized by their coach. Zachary Meints is accused of chatting about graphic sex acts with children over the Internet.
Meints, 23, was a volunteer coach for at least two youth hockey clubs.
Detectives said there are five alleged victims under 15 and there could be more. Interviews with 13 children have yielded more potential witnesses and victims.
“There was information we found that led us to believe that this person was engaging in inappropriate behavior with children, specifically Internet sexual exploitation of a child,” said Boulder Police spokeswoman Kim Kobel.
Meints coached with the Boulder Hockey Club from 2009 until February.
Forensic computer investigators searched Meints’ cell phone and computer and collected evidence from the devices.
The president of the Boulder Hockey Club said the safety of children is the top priority. The organization also conducts background checks on every coach.
“Obviously we’re going to help the authorities get through this and do what we can to help them in any way that we can. We’d like to get to the bottom of it as much as anybody else. I’m a parent, my kids went through here and I want to find out what happened here, if anything,” said Boulder Valley Hockey Foundation President Dennis Hefter.
“So right now we do not know if there was molestation or encounters, physical encounters. That is something we’re investigating and that is why we want people to come forward,” said Kobel.
Meints most recently coached the Rocky Mountain Rough Riders Triple A Youth Hockey program in Westminster. That organization said it suspended Meints when it learned about the investigation in Boulder.
“Seemed like a great kid, decent coach, knew what he was doing. I had no idea anything like this would come up,” said Rocky Mtn. Rough Riders President Randy Kanai.
Police are urging anyone with information about this crime to contact the Boulder Police Department’s Tip Line at 303-441-1974. Detective Kurt Foster is the lead detective on this case, and all pertinent information will be relayed to him. The case number is 11-12822.
Those who have information but wish to remain anonymous may contact the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-444-3776. Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 from Crime Stoppers.