BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- A youth hockey coach accused of sex crimes against children on the Internet was in court Friday afternoon. There was a room full of supporters for the accused in court.
Zachary Meints is accused of chatting and performing sexual acts while online with minors.
Meints, 23, was released from custody at 7 p.m. Friday on $35,000 bond. He wore a suicide smock to his first court appearance where dozens of people showed up to support him.
Prosecutors said this case isn’t about a single error in judgement, but years and years of inappropriate contact with many, many children.
Meints’ attorney countered that there are no allegations of touching and he insisted there are mitigating factors that prosecutors are not aware of.
Prosecutors said Meints, a former coach for the Boulder Hockey Club and Rocky Mountain Rough Riders, exchanged thousands of sexually explicit text messages with minors over the course of years.
Meints’ attorney argued that no one had reviewed the context of the messages. He said they weren’t as heinous as presented by prosecutors.
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.
“I have one of the best sex assault units in the state, frankly in the Western United States. I’ve got one of my best deputies on it they’re processing it and we will be very, very careful,” said Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett.
Formal charges are expected to be filed next week.
Meints’ release was contingent on a mental health evaluation. He has been on suicide watch. His attorney says he will seek counseling.
The Boulder Hockey club said it is offering counseling to all of its members.
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.
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.