A former varsity tennis coach at Visitation School in Mendota Heights has been charged with sexual misconduct for a yearlong relationship with a girl on his team, and police are investigating the possibility that he may have victimized others.
Daniel Erik Hubbard Wilson, 27, of St. Paul, was arrested early Saturday in Minneapolis and booked into the Ramsey County jail. He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, both felonies, in Ramsey County District Court.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct is commonly referred to as rape.
“I fell in love with her so tremendously and I never should have at this time,” Wilson wrote in a text message to the girl’s father the day before his arrest.
Wilson, who coached at the all-girls’ high school from August 2010 until his resignation Sept. 24, sexually assaulted the girl repeatedly starting in September 2013, according to the criminal complaint.
Wilson was arrested on Saturday. He appeared in court Monday afternoon and was released on bail and left jail after 8 p.m. that day.
The girl’s father confronted her late last month about her relationship with Wilson, who was also her personal coach.
The girl told police on Friday that she first met Wilson in 2012, just before she started her freshman year, the complaint said. The relationship allegedly became sexual in September 2013 when the girl, 15 at the time, visited Wilson’s home after homecoming.
At the time, Wilson and the girl allegedly talked about how their relationship was illegal because of her age.
‘I feel terrible’
In his Oct. 3 text message to the girl’s father, Wilson said “I made decisions I absolutely never should have at this time.
“But please, my whole life would be destroyed, registering, probation, doing time, I have two sisters I love dearly that I could never see, I could never get a job or move on and go back to grad school. I feel terrible and I desperately wanted chance to reinvent myself learning from my mistake.”
A day later, the complaint said, Wilson was interviewed by police. He asked for an attorney and the interview was terminated, but he then said, “I love her, and I know I can’t get into much else, but … I … I did, and. … ”
Chris Madel, an attorney for the girl’s family, said Monday that the victim, who will soon be 17, was 15 when the alleged misconduct began.
“The family is shocked, dismayed and doing their best to work through this difficult time,” Madel said.
Wilson appeared in court Monday and was granted $20,000 bail. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
In a written statement to the Star Tribune, Dawn Nichols, Visitation’s Head of School, said that Wilson was suspended Sept. 23 “after concerns were raised about an inappropriate relationship with a minor.” She wrote that he resigned the next day, “citing family reasons.” The school reported the matter to local law enforcement, she said.
“Visitation School holds the safety and health of its students as its highest priority, and will continue to cooperate fully with authorities,” the statement said.
Steve Sandell, the school’s interim varsity girls’ tennis coach, said Monday that he knew Wilson had left the school but did not know that he had been arrested. When told of the charges, Sandell, who considered Wilson a “good friend” and good teacher, said he was “enormously surprised,” adding that “I have great respect for Danny, the work I’ve seen him do and the integrity I’ve seen him display.”
Sgt. Paul Cottingham, a sex crimes investigator with the St. Paul Police Department, said Monday that the investigation into Wilson’s activities is expanding.
“It’s our belief that there are more victims, however, we don’t have much information to go on,” he said.
The complaint against Wilson shows that the girl gave police the names of three other “young women” whom he had “indicated he had been romantically involved with.”
Restraining order filed
Other court records show that the girl’s father filed a harassment restraining order in Ramsey County against Wilson early last week. The father wrote that his daughter was “emotionally distraught,” and that Wilson was “obsessed” with her.
Evidence presented as grounds for the restraining order included text messages sent by Wilson to the father in which he professed his love for the girl.
“I’ve been over the toilet puking for an hour not worried about my career and having to leave or move, I’m destroyed thinking about even 20 years down the road not being with her,” Wilson texted just two weeks ago.
The restraining order is active through September 2016, and prohibits any contact between Wilson and the girl.
Besides coaching the Visitation girls’ varsity, Wilson for the past three springs coached varsity boys’ tennis at Highland Park High School in St. Paul. Although a girl played on that team last year, a district spokeswoman said Monday that there have been no complaints about the coach.
Wilson also has taught tennis at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center. A university athletics spokesman said he was a subcontractor there and not an athletic department employee, and hasn’t taught there for eight months. There were no complaints about him.
Wilson is a 2005 graduate of Minneapolis South High School and reasonably well known in local tennis circles. When he was a high school senior, the Star Tribune called him “one of the biggest surprises on the local tennis scene in recent years.” He went on to play for DePaul University.
Cottingham, the St. Paul police investigator, asked that anyone with information about other possible victims to contact him at 651-266-5685.