NYC youth coach indicted in Mass. sex abuse case

By Jay Lindsay
Associated Press Writer / October 13, 2010

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BOSTON—A renowned New York City youth basketball coach has been indicted on charges he sexually assaulted a player during a team trip to western Massachusetts three decades ago, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Ernest Lorch was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on charges of attempted rape and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over, said Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jane Mulqueen.

Lorch, who is in his late 70s, is accused of abusing the player, then 17, during a trip to a tournament at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said Mulqueen, chief of the office's child abuse division.

Mulqueen said Lorch, of Ardsley, N.Y., has been summoned to appear for arraignment, though a date hasn't been set and she was uncertain Wednesday if he'd been notified about the indictment.

A call for comment Wednesday to Lorch's attorney, Frederick H. Cohn, was not immediately returned. Lorch's home phone number is unlisted, and he could not be reached for comment.

Lorch founded and coached in the Riverside Church basketball program in Manhattan, whose alumni include dozens of NBA players, including Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson and Stephon Marbury.

According to the indictment, Lorch sexually abused the victim when his Riverside Hawks team traveled to Amherst for a tournament between March 1977 and April 1978. Lorch also tried to rape the player, the indictment said.

Mulqueen said her office's investigation began early this year, when the victim came forward with the accusation. She said Lorch could be charged in the 32-year-old case because the clock on the statute of limitations froze once Lorch left Massachusetts after the tournament.

"The victim deserves to see justice done," Mulqueen said.

Each charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Mitchell Garabedian, the civil attorney for the former player, now 50, said, "Any sexual abuse victim should be proud of coming forward and revealing the horrible and painful truth."

The Associated Press doesn't identify people who claimed they've been sexually assaulted.

Lorch, an attorney, resigned from the Riverside basketball program in 2003 after three decades, following allegations of sexual abuse by a former player, Robert Holmes.

Holmes, who served federal prison time on a weapons offense in a separate case, accused Lorch of paying him $2 million in hush money. But Lorch said he was investing in Holmes' record label and other failed ventures and called the accusations against him "preposterous and deplorable."

The Manhattan District Attorney's office investigated the abuse charges against Lorch, but he was never indicted.

Another New York City coaching legend, Bob Oliva, pleaded not guilty in April after being charged with raping a 14-year-old boy during a visit to Boston in 1976. Oliva coached future NBA players such as Lamar Odom during 27 seasons at Christ the King Regional High School.

Oliva's attorney has said his client is looking forward to clearing his name.