A former Burnsville swim coach faces new felony charges after a second woman reported that he sexually assaulted her decades ago when she was a minor.
Alfred John “Rocky” O’Neill now has been charged in Dakota County District Court with four counts of criminal sexual conduct related to two separate allegations that he coerced underage swimmers into performing sex acts for him in the late 1980s and 1990s.
O’Neill, 61, of Savage, admitted to having sexual contact with one of the women but said it occurred after she turned 18, according to court records. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
“A student athlete can easily be manipulated into a sexual relationship by a coach whom the student trusts, and such relationships can have long-term negative impacts upon the victim,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. “I wish to commend this victim’s courage in coming forward many years after this alleged crime occurred.”
In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for charges of this nature extend nine years from the act or within three years of it being reported to law enforcement.
Reports in June, September
The allegations were first reported anonymously in June to SafeSport, a nonprofit tasked with investigating and responding to reports of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements.
The alleged victim later told investigators that she met O’Neill at age 14 when she joined the Burnsville Swim Club. As she got older, she said O’Neill treated her as a favorite and increasingly found ways to spend time alone with her. By the time she turned 17, he had initiated sexual contact, charges say. She alleges the abuse occurred from 1988 to 1989.
O’Neill denied having sexual contact with her before she turned 18.
Three months later, another woman emerged with accusations that O’Neill sexually abused her as a teenager between 1997 and 1999.
She told authorities that she began swimming for his club team at 12 or 13 years old, and he eventually saw her “as a favorite,” according to the criminal complaint. By 16, he groomed her into a sexual relationship in which she says he forced her on at least three occasions to perform sex acts in his car.
He was 24 years her senior at the time.
Since the allegations surfaced, SafeSport has ruled the coach of 30 years ineligible in its national database.
Burnsville police encouraged anyone who was a victim of underage sexual contact to call them at 952-895-4600.