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Continued: Bloomington sex offender was youth coach

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS and PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: April 14, 2009 - 11:40 PM

A convicted sex offender who recently coached youth teams in Bloomington has been charged with molesting two girls at a motel, prompting police to send letters to parents whose children might have had him as their coach.

Randy Lee Ronning, 36, of Bloomington was charged last week with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and remains in the Hennepin County jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Ronning helped coach floor hockey in January and February of 2008 and softball in May and June of 2006 for the Bloomington Athletic Association (BAA), according to Dave Schulze, who has been a coach or a member of the BAA board for the past 12 years. The teams were for girls ages 8 to 10.

The BAA did not do a background check on Ronning, the group said. Police said they will be working with the BAA on how to do the checks.

"Things like this will drive you to change things," Schulze said. "It's very shocking something, like this. We can't stay as comfortable as we've been."

Sgt. Mark Stehlik said police have "no real reason to believe" there are any victims related to Ronning's coaching duties. But they are "concerned there may be other victims in the community," said Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts.

Police sent out letters this week to parents whose children might have had Ronning as a coach, urging them to discuss the issue with their children. It was the first time the department has had to send out such a letter.

"I think it's disturbing and a good example of how any parent needs to be careful of who their kids are hanging out with," Stehlik said. "It's not anybody's fault in this particular case except for Randy Ronning's, and he needs to be held accountable."

According to the charges:

A woman staying in the same Days Inn hotel room as Ronning and the two girls said she woke up at 4 a.m. April 4 to see Ronning touching the sleeping 9-year-old, prompting the witness to call police. The 9-year-old told police that she was staying at the hotel with her 10-year-old friend for a gathering, and Ronning was looking after them. The 10-year-old girl said that Ronning had been her baby sitter since she was 2 years old and that Ronning had touched her inappropriately since she was 8. Though the older victim knew Ronning through family, he had at one time served as her volunteer coach, police said.

Police did not elaborate how explain how the girls, the woman and Ronning knew one other, but they said Ronning was a friend of the family staying in the hotel as part of a larger gathering of acquaintances. The woman in the room was not either of the girls' mother.

In 1992, Ronning was convicted of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Police say that although the circumstances were different, that crime also involved a juvenile female. Stehlik said a background check would have revealed that conviction.

Schulze said nothing suspicious occurred in the time that Ronning was a coach. Ronning did not have children in the BAA, but was recommended as a coach by a family that did have children participating, Schulze said.

"This is tough," Schulze said. "We want to work with the police in any way that we can and make sure this type of thing doesn't happen again."

Anyone with information on Ronning should contact detective Kim Jones-O'Brien by e-mail at kjonesobrien@ci.bloomington.mn.us or by phone at 952- 563-4924.

asimons@startribune.com • 612-673-4921 pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

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