Alleged victim declines pursuing charges in UNCW soccer coach investigation

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office confirms they investigated UNCW women’s soccer coach Paul Cairney for indecent liberties with a minor back in 2007, but at the time, the victim in the case did not want to pursue prosecution.

Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer says due to recent social media posts, the sheriff’s office and UNCW Police reached out to the victim, who again declined a further criminal investigation.

The sheriff’s office confirms this is the only investigation they have conducted involving Coach Cairney. A spokeswoman with the Wilmington Police Department also confirmed they do not have any prior investigations involving Cairney.

UNCW placed Cairney on administrative leave on December 8 to conduct a personnel inquiry. UNCW will not confirm whether this relates to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Many students are still concerned and confused.

“It definitely scares me but it’s nice that they’re looking into it now.But I just wish that this could’ve happened, like not looking into it until 2007 when it happened in 1994,” student Molly Crum, said.

Anonymous tweets from last summer and again in November and December, accuse Cairney of sexual misconduct at a UNCW Soccer Camp more than two decades ago.

Many students on campus believe the “#MeToo” movement contributed to this and say now is the best time to deal with it.

“For an issue like this to be prevalent and dealt with accurately and adequately, I think it’s today as much as any time,” said student Ben Young. “But I also think it’s important that UNCW’s faculty and staff to heavily hard press this issue and make sure if there is any sexual misconduct, that’s it’s dealt with appropriately.”

“I think now it’s re-surfacing because there’s been so many movements against this type of misconduct. People are trying to stop it and they probably remember this and brought it back up to try to make sure it wasn’t being covered up,” student Jillian Klosek, said.

According to the UNCW website, Cairney has been with the soccer team since 1994. He became the head coach in 1996.

We reached out to UNCW and asked if they had received any other allegations into Coach Cairney or any other complaints from students. We also wanted to know if we could speak with someone to explain the procedures for summer camps.

We are still waiting on a response.

WWAY reached out to Coach Cairney’s attorney, Bruce Mason, who responded to the allegations Wednesday night saying in part:

“The allegation against Coach Paul Cairney is false. The accusation alleges an incident occurring in 1994. This claim was fully and thoroughly investigated by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department in 2007. Paul cooperated in that investigation.”

We reached back out to Mason about the latest developments and he responded Thursday evening with the following statement:

“The recent statement made on behalf of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department indicates a positive step in this matter,” Mason said. “UNCW is still obliged to conduct a complete and independent administrative inquiry into this claim. Coach Cairney has trust in the process and a great deal of respect for the team appointed by UNCW to conduct the investigation. Paul looks forward to continuing his cooperation in the process. There has been an overwhelming number of requests by the media to interview Paul or his attorney. Coach Cairney believes that any media interviews will only serve to harm the integrity of the inquiry. Although appreciated, all requests for interviews by the media will be declined. Paul firmly believes this course of action is in the best interests of the UNCW family, the public-at-large, and his family.”

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Sports

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