Zachary Meints, a 23-year-old former Boulder youth hockey coach accused of sending thousands of sexual texts and Facebook messages to minors asking them for naked photos and encouraging "masturbation races," has pleaded guilty to one count of felony Internet sexual exploitation on Wednesday.
Meints was originally charged with five felony counts of Internet sexual exploitation of a child after being accused of sending "thousands" of explicit and inappropriate messages to youth, according to a recently unsealed arrest affidavit.
In exchange for the guilty plea to the single count of felony Internet sexual exploitation, the prosecution dropped the other charges, The Daily Camera reports.
Police say they were first notified about the allegations on September 28, 2011 and that initial rounds of interviews led them to 13 potential victims and witnesses, five of whom were under the age of 15 at the time.
In the affidavit Meints admits to challenging players on a couple occasions to "masturbation races" through communications on Facebook, and asked for photographic proof. Victims also told police that Meints would talk to them about using sex toys and pornography.
Although Meints would ask victims to send him pictures of themselves naked, Meints never sent pictures of himself or made physical advances, according to the Daily Camera.
When police confronted Meints, he said that he engaged in "locker room talk" and that he'd "jokingly" initiate the masturbation challenges.
7News reports that a mother of two boys who received text messages from Meintz said, "He was asking the boys to send him pictures of themselves and then offering, you know in exchange, money and paid porno sites." The mother said her sons ignored the messages and didn't say much about it until they were approached by the police.
When the scandal first broke, 9News discovered that a memo about the exploitation allegations was distributed to a team owner as well as "officers or directors of Boulder Hockey Club or Rocky Mountain Rough Riders" more than two months before parents were notified.
Meints was dismissed by the Boulder Hockey Club and fired from his Rough Riders assistant coach position when police bagan their investigation in September, and the club hired a counselor for the players at the club's own expense.
Meints' sentencing is scheduled for August 3, the former hockey coach could face as little as one year or as many as 12 years in prison.
As a reminder to parents, Boulder detectives offer these tips to ensure the safety of their children. Parents should pay attention to the following:
- Mood changes
- Declining school grades
- Sexualized behavior
- Secretive behavior
- Not sleeping or eating well
- Abnormal relationship with an adult
Parents who may be concerned about their child's welfare should monitor their cell phone and computer use. It's also a good idea to talk to kids about what kind of behavior is appropriate or inappropriate. And always, report anything suspicious to police.
In late March, 2012, Nicole Jacques allegedly had sex with her 15-year-old student several times in her apartment. None of the alleged abuse happened at Calvary Baptist School in Pennsylvania where she worked.
Cobb was arrested in March, 2012 for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student. She also allegedly exchanged 12,000 texts with the boy over the course of four months
Colorado school board member Stefanie Dickinson was charged with Internet luring of a child in September after she was caught sexting a 14-year-old boy. The boy reportedly told police he became uncomfortable after she would show up at his football games and tell him how sexy his smile was. She was arrested in October for sexual assault on another minor, also a student. Photo courtesy of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
As a substitute teacher in L.A.'s second-largest school district, George Hernandez was investigated three times for sexual misconduct with students. Hernandez fled to Mexico when officially charged when police found video evidence of him molesting a second-grade girl. He remains at large and wanted by the Huntington Park Police Department.
Colorado high school physical education teacher and basketball coach Lauren Redfern was charged with sexual assault on a child by a person of a position of trust with a pattern of sexual abuse after suspicions arose that she was having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student over the course of 4 months. Though initial interviews with the victim indicate that their relationship was consensual, it will not deter the Sheriff's Office from pressing charges against Redfern. Photo courtesy of the Eagle County Sheriff's Office.
Heather Whitten Whitten, a 38-year-old teacher at Williams Intermediate School in Alabama, was arrested in February 2012 for allegedly raping a male student between the ages of 12 and 16. Cops said that the crime did not occur on school grounds.
Andrea Ebert, a 30-year-old special education teacher at Rice Lake Middle School in Wisconsin, was jailed in February 2012 after she allegedly had sex with two 17-year-old students. None of several encounters between her and the students were reported to be on campus.
This undated police booking photo released by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department shows former Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who was arrested for felony molestation of 23 kids after photos surfaced. Berndt been charged with committing lewd acts with 23 boys and girls ages 7 to 10. Berndt pleaded not guilty on Feb. 21. AP Photo/ Los Angeles Sheriff's Department)
North Dakota school teacher Jennifer Schultz is charged with sexually assaulting two of her students after a group of students arrived at her home and asked if she would like to drink vodka with them. Authorities say that after a few drinks, two of the boys went up to Schultz's room, where the teacher allegedly had sex with one boy while the other watched.
Kelly K. Miller
Kelly K. Miller, 32, a science teacher in the Chicago suburbs, was charged with sexual exploitation of a child on Sept. 27 after allegedly sending explicit photos of herself to a 15-year-old student. Photo courtesy of the Aurora Police Department.
Pamela Joan Rogers Turner Mugshot
This April 26, 2006 booking mug shot shows Pamela Rogers Turner after her arrest. Turner, now 34, a former teacher who served time in jail for having sex with a 13-year-old boy, is currently serving a prison sentence for sending inappropriate photos and videos of herself to that same boy after she served out her original sentence. (AP Photo/Warren County Sheriff, HO)
Pamela Joan Turner (Pamela Rogers) In Court
This July 14, 2006 photo shows Pamela Joan Turner, right, being escorted into circuit court in McMinnville, Tenn. The Tennessee Supreme Court said that it will not hear the appeal. Turner was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old student at the Warren County school where she taught and then again convicted of sending that same student inappropriate photos and videos of herself. (AP Photo/Mark Humhrey)
Debra Lafave Pleads Guilty
Former middle school teacher Debra Lafave is shown in this file photo as she looks at a reporter after pleading guilty on Nov. 22, 2005 to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery. Lafave, now 31, whose sexual liaisons with a 14-year-old middle school student made tabloid headlines, avoided prison as part of a plea agreement. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara/FILE)
Debra Lafave Mugshot
This booking photo shows Debra Lafave, who was arrested Tuesday Dec. 4, 2007 for violating the terms of her probation. Lafave was originally arrested on June 21, 2004 and charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a person under 16 years old. (AP Photo/Hillsborough County Jail)
Shepherd Hill Regional High School teacher Amber S. Jennings is arraigned in Worcester Superior Court in this file photo taken Feb. 24, 2005, in Worcester, Mass. Jennings pleaded guilty to "disseminating harmful materials to a minor." She was sentenced to two years' probation. A spokesman for Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte said the allegations involved a 16-year-old student. (AP Photo/ Pool)
Carrie McCandless is taken into custody after her sentencing hearing at Larimer County Justice Center for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student at Brighton Charter High School, where she was a teacher, Friday, June 8, 2007, in Fort Collins, Colorado. McCandless was sentenced to 45 days in jail, five years on probation and a four-year deferred sentence. McCandless was arrested in May of 2011 for a parole violation after she tested positive for morphine. She served a 60-day sentence for the violation. (AP Photo/Sherri Barber, Pool)
Carrie McCandless listens during her sentencing hearing at Larimer County Justice Center for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student at Brighton Charter High School, where she was a teacher, Friday, June 8, 2007, in Fort Collins, Colorado. McCandless was taken to custody by a Larimer County sheriff's deputy after being sentenced to 45 days in jail, five years on probation and a four-year deferred sentence. In May of 2011, McCandless was sentenced to 60 days in jail for a parole violation after she tested positive for morphine. (AP Photo/Sherri Barber, Pool)
Undated booking photo of Carrie McCandless from the Jefferson County Jail.
Mary Kay Letourneau Mugshot
Mary Kay Letourneau is shown in this undated photo taken in conjunction with her required registration at the King County courthouse in Washington as a level-two sex offender following her Aug. 4, 2004, release from prison. Letourneau completed a 7 1/2-year term for child rape in connection with a relationship she had with her former sixth-grade pupil Vili Fualaau, with whom she had two children. (AP Photo/Coutesy Washington State Sex Offender Information Center)
Mary Kay Letourneau Listens To Testimony
In this Feb. 6, 1998 file photo, Mary Kay LeTourneau listens to testimony during her court hearing Friday. Letourneau and her former sixth-grade student, the father of her two youngest children, are hosting a "Hot for Teacher" night at a Seattle nightclub. (AP Photo/Alan Berner, Pool)
Vil Fualaau, Father 2 Daughters With 6th Grade Teacher Mary Kay Letourneau
Vili Fualaau testified Wednesday, April 3, 2002, in his and his mother's civil lawsuit against the City of Des Moines and the Highline School District at the Regional Justice Center in Kent, Wash. Fualaau, then 18, and his mother, Soona Vili, are seeking $1 million from the city claiming police and school officials should have kept Fualaau from having sex with his teacher Mary Kay Letourneau. (AP Photo/Matt Brashears, Pool)
Wendie A. Schweikert Mugshot
This Feb. 24, 2006 booking photo shows Wendie A. Schweikert, 36, of Belton, South Carolina. Schweikert, an elementary school teacher, was arrested and charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, Laurens police said. The former fifth-grade teacher accused of having sex with her 11-year-old student was ordered held on $100,000 (84,060) bond. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2007. (AP Photo/Laurens, S.C Police Dept, File)
Tara Driscoll Mugshot
In this Aug. 5, 2011 photo released by the Nassau County Police Department in Garden City, N.Y., New York City English teacher Tara Driscoll is shown. Driscoll, 33, pleaded guilty to having sex with a student who attended the high school where she worked. She was sentenced to six years probation. (AP Photo/Nassau County Police Department)
Rachel L. Holt Mugshot
Rachel L. Holt, a science teacher at Claymont Elementary School, was arrested early Tuesday, April 4, 2006. The sixth-grade science teacher was accused of having sex with a 13-year-old student and was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday March 16, 2007. Prosecutors had wanted Scott to sentence Holt to the maximum of 25 years. (AP Photo/New Castle County Police Department)
This undated photo shows Holly Hatcher, a Gallatin High School teacher charged with statutory rape after being accused of having sex with a 17-year-old male student at her home in Nashville. (AP Photo/Nashville Police Department)
Angela Renee Comer
Angela Renee Comer, 28, talks to reporters in Tompkinsville, Ky., Wednesday, May 9, 2007, after a hearing where she reached a plea agreement. Comer was sentenced to five years in prison for one count of sodomy and five additional years for one count of custodial interference. The former teacher was charged with having sex with a 14-year-old middle school student and running off to Mexico with him in January 2006. (AP Photo/Jim Roshan)
This Monday, May 16, 2011 photo shows Brittni Nicole Colleps, a teacher who has charged with having sex with five high school students at her home in Arlington, Texas. Colleps, 27, was jailed on $125,000 bond after turning herself in Monday morning, then posted bond in the afternoon for her release. She faces 20 years in prison. (AP Photo/Arlington Police Department)
This video shows Stacy Schuler, 33, an ex-Ohio teacher convicted on Oct. 27 of having sex with five students. The teens testified their teacher had been drinking alcohol and initiated much of the contact during the encounters, which took place at Schuler's home. After a judge rejected an insanity defense that argued the teens took advantage of her, Schuler was sentenced to a total of four years in prison.