KC-area football coach charged with sexually assaulting student

A Pleasant Hill High School assistant football coach has been charged with sexually assaulting a student.

A Pleasant Hill High School assistant football coach has been charged with sexually assaulting a student.

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A former paraprofessional and assistant football coach at Pleasant Hill High School is facing nine felonies after a 16-year-old student reported he repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

Justin E. Kerscher, 29, of Kansas City, was charged in Cass County Circuit Court on Wednesday with child sex trafficking, forensic buggery and sexual contact with a college student. He also faces three misdemeanor charges of supplying pornographic material to a minor.

According to court records, the Pleasant Hill Police Department began investigating Kerscher after receiving information from a Cass County Children’s Division social worker. The social worker told police a student reported being sexually assaulted by a staff member she met at Pleasant Hill High.

Starting in November, according to charging documents, Kerscher added the girl as a friend on Snapchat and Instagram. She told a social worker that he had flirted with her before and that she initially thought he might be a high school senior, but later learned he was an employee.

From there, the teenager said Kerscher started messaging her on social media “all the time”. It escalated to nude photos and videos of him and asking him to send nude photos back, the girl told the social worker.

The girl told investigators she met Kerscher outside of school three times: twice at Lake Pleasant Hill and once at home when her parents were out of town. Each time, she says, Kerscher pressured her to have sex.

The girl said she was assaulted by Kerscher in the back seat of her van one day when they were both parked by the lake.

In March, when she was home alone, she said he convinced her to let him come to her house. That day, the girl said Kerscher parked at a nearby gas station so no one would see him near her house. They ordered pizza and he spent the night in her bedroom, where he forced her to have sexual contact, according to court records.

After meeting him outside of school, the girl said Kerscher still often claps her hands as they pass in the hallway.

She felt “strange” and “frightened” as Kerscher allegedly made her advances, charging documents say. She told police “she felt like (Kerscher) was starting to control all of her thoughts, feelings and everything she did.”

“She said she thought it was weird that he had already graduated from college, that he was a coach and that she was much younger. (The victim) said that she was really weird and that she knew all the time it was wrong, but she was too scared to tell anyone,” the charging document states.

In a statement, Pleasant Hill School District officials said they “took immediate action once we became aware of the allegations. The district is fully cooperating with investigating entities and local law enforcement.

“The Pleasant Hill R-III School District will continue to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation. Additional information cannot be shared; however, we can assure you that the staff member in question is no longer employed by the district. The safety and security of our students continues to be our highest priority. »

Kerscher allegedly told the girl to “delete everything” from Snapchat after she was furloughed by the school district on May 5, according to court documents.

Kerscher’s Linkedin page says he started working for the Pleasant Hill School District last summer, as a paraprofessional and assistant football coach. Prior to that, he is said to have been a behavioral specialist with the North Kansas City School District from December 2019 to June 2021. He was also previously an assistant football coach at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in Overland Park and West Monks. Iowa school district, according to his profile.

Court records indicate that an interview with another potential victim was scheduled to take place on Thursday. Police were also waiting for information from Instagram that could show a third victim, according to court documents.

Court records did not list a defense attorney for Kerscher as of Thursday afternoon.

Kerscher is currently being held in the Cass County Jail on $500,000 cash-only bond.

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Bill Lukitsch covers breaking news for The Star. Prior to joining The Star, he covered politics and local government for the Quad-City Times.

Sarah Ritter covers K-12 education for The Kansas City Star. A former Quad-City Times reporter, Sarah is a graduate of Augustana College.

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