No charges for former UNCW soccer coach accused of sexual misconduct

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two days after UNCW parted ways with longtime women’s soccer coach Paul Cairney, the District Attorney’s office announced he will not face any charges in regards to sexual misconduct claims.

The DA’s office held a press conference Friday to release more details from investigations into two sexual misconduct allegations involving Cairney.

The DA’s office said they contacted SBI after learning about the allegations, but resulted in no criminal charges against Cairney.

In 2007, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office received information alleging acts of sexual misconduct by Cairney that were said to have occurred in 1996, when the now 26-year-old woman was a 15-year-old camper attending a girls’ soccer camp at UNCW. She stated that she was not able to speak about the event, and that she wanted to prevent other girls from being placed at risk. She also made it clear to the sheriff’s office that she did not want to file criminal charges. NHSO determined there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest. UNCW Police, UNCW nor the DA’s office say they were aware of that investigation.

In December, social media posts containing information about this 1996 allegation brought the matter to the attention of UNCW. The administrators then began further internal investigation. During it, they discovered that, in 2004, a person, through an email, made an allegation of sexual misconduct again Cairney. This second and separate report was handled internally by the university in 2004. Neither the UNCW Police, DA’s office, NHSO, were made aware of this 20004 email or of the internal investigation.

In light of the discovery of this 2004 email, UNCW as well as UNCW Police notified the DA’s office in February. At that time, the DA’s office requested the SBI to investigate the claims.

SBI says investigators were unable to develop any new information during their investigation with the 1996 claim that would change the original determination made by the sheriff’s office investigators.

As for the 2004 report, SBI could not identify or locate the sender of the email. As a result, the DA’s office is not able to proceed with criminal charged.

Cairney was put on administrative leave in early December. WWAY found out Thursday that UNCW “discontinued” Cairney from his position at the university.

In light of the news Cairney will not face criminal charges, we reached out to UNCW, which released the following statement: “We respect the decision of the District Attorney. However, the standard of proof for an employment decision is much different than that for a criminal prosecution. A discontinuation of an at-will employee could occur for any reason(s). We stand by our decision, the circumstances of which remain confidential based on state law.”

We have also reached out to Bruce Mason, Cairney’s attorney, for a statement.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Sports

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