FBI looking for players victimized by Connecticut AAU coach

Oct 22, 2021, 12:40 AM | Updated: 12:42 pm

The FBI has identified “quite a few” sexual abuse victims of a former Connecticut girl’s AAU basketball coach and authorities are seeking the public’s help in finding others, an official said Friday.

Danny Lawhorn, 30, of Hartford, faces both state sexual assault and federal child enticement charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of three girls who played for the Bria Holmes Elite program between 2017 and this year.

The federal charges allege that in June he assaulted a player from overseas who was staying at the Hartford home that Lawhorn shared with Holmes, a former WNBA player, and the couple’s child.

Two other former players in the Holmes Elite program have come forward to say they were abused by Lawhorn in 2017 and 2019, federal prosecutors said. All three girls, who were under the age of 18 at the time, said Lawhorn asked for a massage before he sexually assaulted them, according to court documents.

Aristos Papadacos, a special agent with the FBI’s New Haven office, said at a news conference Friday they are asking for any other victims to come forward and contact them through a special website.

He said because of the nature of the elite program, some victims may be out of state or even overseas.

“I don’t know the exact number (of victims) and I don’t want to get into the exact number,” Papadacos said. “But we have quite a few victims right now.”

Lawhorn was removed as a coach by Bria Holmes Elite after his arrest in June on state charges of second-degree sexual assault. He had coached multiple teams for the program founded by Holmes, a former Connecticut high school star who went on to play at West Virginia and in the WNBA.

Lawhorn’s attorney, Jon Schoenhorn, argued that his client not be detained on the federal charges before trial. He said the player at the center of the case was not on a team coached by Lawhorn in June and was three weeks shy of her 18th birthday at the time of the incident.

However, prosecutors said Lawhorn told police that he knew the girl was 17 and admitted being her coach.

Messages were left Friday with Bria Holmes Elite and with Holmes’ agent.

Lawhorn also faces federal drug charges stemming from Lawhorn’s Oct. 5 arrest by Hartford police, during which he possessed about 300 wax sleeves believed to contain the deadly narcotic fentanyl, according to the federal complaint.

A federal detention hearing was continued until Monday because of technical difficulties with the video conference. Lawhorn remains in state custody in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

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FBI looking for players victimized by Connecticut AAU coach