Crime - Sacto 911

Coach’s arrest prompts Sac City Unified to reconsider hiring practices

Elan Seagraves
Elan Seagraves

The arrest of a Kennedy High School boys soccer coach on suspicion of selling a teenager for sex has Sacramento City Unified School District considering changing its hiring policies.

School board President Jessie Ryan said the board of trustees will review district polices on vetting employees at its next meeting Jan. 18 – the day after Elan Daniel Seagraves, 34, returns to Sacramento Superior Court on felony charges of pandering, false imprisonment and human trafficking.

The charges stem from a 911 call from a 17-year-old girl at 2:52 a.m. Dec. 25. The girl, who was hiding in a backyard, said she was a victim of sexual assault, was being forced into human trafficking and that the man responsible was waiting in a nearby vehicle, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived and found Seagraves in a vehicle with another girl, who also was 17, according to reports. Both girls were determined to be victims of human trafficking. Seagraves, of Sacramento, was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail where he remains in protective custody on $2 million bail.

“The board was heartbroken by these allegations and is currently reviewing board policy to identify ways to strengthen our efforts to generate greater awareness about sexual exploitation of children and increase interventions and student supports,” Ryan said Wednesday. “This case underscores the dire need for us to continue to focus our efforts on going above and beyond to protect our students.”

Seagraves has coached the Kennedy varsity and junior varsity boy’s soccer teams this school year as well as March through May in 2016 and January through March in 2017, according to Sacramento City Unified officials. He also coached junior varsity soccer teams at West Campus during the 2013-14 school year.

There is no information that would lead the department to believe the victim was a student at Kennedy High School, said Sgt. Shaun Hampton, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department.

The district held a meeting with parents on Friday after news broke about the arrest. The No. 1 question from parents, according to the principal, was whether the district had done a background check on Seagraves before he was hired, said Alex Barrios, district spokesman.

“We had background checked him and he had no prior offenses on this issue,” Barrios said.

The district currently follows hiring guidelines set by the state Education Code, Barrios said. The Education Code requires that employees be fingerprinted and vetted by the Department of Justice. The code lists numerous violations that would exclude a person from employment at schools, including convictions for drug and sex crimes, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and serious and violent felonies.

Seagraves will no longer be allowed to work with students in the district in any capacity, Barrios said.

Parent Oksana Fedchuck, whose son Mark is on the Kennedy varsity soccer team, says she thinks the arrest is a mistake.

“What I’m reading in the news and what I know about him – it’s two different people to me,” she said. “What I know about him, it doesn’t fit what happened.”

Fedchuck said she has watched Seagraves interact with his children and the team’s players.

“To my opinion he was a very good parent to his kids,” she said. “He was always trying to help.”

Seagraves has four or five children, she said.

Fedchuck said that the boys on the soccer team are upset by the arrest. “The kids think the same as me. ... We are hoping he gets cleared and he will coach.”

Sacramento City Unified has been at the forefront of the battle against human trafficking, but this case shows the need to intensify efforts to protect students, Ryan said.

The district started its efforts to battle sex trafficking in 2009 after an Oakridge Elementary School student was recovered from a motel in Oakland, Ryan said. “That is when Sacramento City decided to be more proactive,” she said.

Now the district has several programs geared toward fighting human trafficking, including training more than 500 teachers and principals to look for risk factors, Ryan said.

The City of Refuge’s Shine Program started in a district middle school two years ago. The eight-week program teaches girls self-worth and focuses on growing inner strength, Ryan said. It is now offered at eight schools.

The Shine Program was started in response to Sacramento’s status as a growing hub of sex trafficking, Ryan said.

The district was one of six districts in the country to win a $400,000 three-year grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice in 2017 to create a model mentorship program to combat trafficking, she said.

Prior to earning the grant, the district had started student mentoring program called Street Team using district funds. Street Team trains students to reach out and empower other youths, according to Ryan.

“I am proud we have been on the forefront of the work,” Ryan said. “But even with the work we have done ... it is not enough.”

Seagraves has had contact with other children. His Facebook page shows the coach smiling among groups of young children clad in soccer gear. His Facebook page says he is a coach and trainer at NorCal Elite Soccer Trainers. The soccer academy did not return calls for comment.

The Sheriff’s Department reported that Seagraves also worked as a driver for both Uber and Lyft. Both companies have removed his access to their apps.

Court documents list only one victim, but there is the potential for additional charges, said Sgt. Shaun Hampton, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department. “There is an ongoing investigation,” he said.

District Attorney spokeswoman Shelly Orio confirmed that the District Attorney’s Office had received a letter from a woman who alleged she was raped by Seagraves. The letter, which also was sent to The Bee, alleges that the rape took place in 1999 when the woman was 13 years old.

Orio said the letter had no bearing on the cancellation of a bail hearing for Seagraves scheduled for Thursday, but that there will be an investigation.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact the Sheriff’s Department Special Investigations/Intelligence Bureau at 916-874-8002. Tip information may also be left anonymously at www.sacsheriff.com or by calling 916-874-8477.

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090.

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