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Calif. trainer charged with sexually abusing minor

6: 18 PM ET

  • Kyle Bonagura

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    ESPN Staff Writer

    • Covers the Pac-12.
    • Joined ESPN in 2014.
    • Attended Washington State University.
  • Paolo Uggetti

Chris Flores, a prominent Southern California youth coach, was arrested Thursday in Bakersfield on multiple counts of sexual assault of a.

A warrant for Flores’ arrest have been issued by the Santa Ana Police Department and was executed with the help of Bakersfield police, in accordance with Santa Ana police Sgt. Maria Lopez.

Flores, 37, have been under investigation since Aug. 5, when police became alert to allegations against him. Flores, also called “Coach Frogg,” is well-known in your community for his association with several high-profile current and former college and NFL football players.

The allegations surfaced on social media marketing this week, stemming from an audio recording of two parties where a grown-up male voice — identified by police as Flores — prods a woman to go visit a movie with him. When she declines his request to FaceTime, the person says, “We discussed this, dude. You gotta stop with the nos.”

The person continues on to ask the lady whether she “deleted everything,” which Santa Ana police said its detectives interpreted as Flores asking her to delete messages between them.

In accordance with police, the 14-year-old girl said Flores “sexually assaulted her multiple times through the entire year in 2021.” Another girl, 15, made similar allegations to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, in accordance with Santa Ana police.

Flores was booked at Orange County Jail, and his bail was set at $500,000.

“Santa Ana Police Department Detectives believe there might be additional victims that Flores preyed upon as a coach with usage of many children and teenagers,” the department said in a statement.

Flores’ attorney, Edward Welbourn, told ESPN he cannot confirm it had been Flores on the recording and denied the allegations were true.

“Chris is a coach, a really teacher and a mentor to kids locally for several years and many of these allegations which have come out have become shocking to him,” Welbourn said Wednesday. “He absolutely denies any kind of inappropriate relationship or connection with any current or former athlete or student he’s trained. All he’s tried to accomplish is help kids and move them on within their lives and their careers.”

The denial Wednesday came just hours after Flores’ business partner, former NFL cornerback Jason David, posted a video on Instagram where he said working out facility they co-founded had severed ties with Flores and he will support the Santa Ana Police Department in its investigation.

“Never in a million years would I ever imagine releasing a public statement to handle sexual misconduct allegations which involves Mr. Flores and our innocent girls,” David said. “I’m sick to my stomach. I’m disgusted. I’m outraged.” He added he had empathy for families involved and encouraged people involved to speak up, adding: “We shall stand with you.”

Flores and David founded Rising STARS in 2017, in accordance with a document made to provide information regarding the business to potential financial donors. STARS Prep Academy, an offshoot of Rising STARS, has described itself as a co-op that delivers elite sports performance training for middle school athletes.

STARS Prep Academy includes a relationship with Santiago Charter Middle School in Orange County which allows students to wait school each morning and train within their specific sport in the afternoon, in accordance with an administrative official for the charter school. STARS and Santiago have a facilities-sharing agreement which allows kids in the STARS program to teach on some of the Santiago campus. There have been roughly 100 students, both male and female, in the program’s last academic year, in accordance with multiple sources.

In the Rising STARS informational document, Kansas City Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, GAMBLING cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei are on the list of athletes listed to be section of “Our Stars Family.”

On his public Facebook page, Flores often shares pictures of himself with prominent college football players and coaches and top recruits.

Flores’ involvement with senior high school and college athletes extends beyond his role as a trainer. In 2020, Levels Sports Group LLC was registered to Flores’ home address along with his wife, Kristen, because the sole employee. Within an updated filing with hawaii of California in November 2021, Levels Sports Group added another manager, Justin Giangrande, who has identified himself as a co-founder of Levels Sports Group.

In a text exchange with ESPN, Giangrande deferred questions about Flores’ involvement in the business to an external spokesperson focusing on his personal behalf.

“Mr. Flores isn’t, and never is a legal partner of Levels,” the spokesperson, Tiffani Joy Murchison, told ESPN. “Needless to say, when individuals are in similar industries and you can find synergies, they do interact. And so he’s got been affiliated, they will have worked together, but he’s got never been a legal partner.”

The statement contradicts a post from the Levels Sports Group Instagram account, which described Chris Flores as “our Co-Founder.”

Murchison was struggling to provide any information regarding Kristen Flores’ professional responsibility with Levels, apart from she actually is a “partner.” After talking to ESPN, Murchison issued a statement with respect to Levels having said that the business had severed ties with both Floreses. It’s unclear what grounds the business had to sever ties using its founder in light of her husband’s arrest, and the business was unwilling to supply additional context.

“[Chris Flores] was widely considered an opportunist, who leveraged his relationships with athletes to create under-the-table handles agents, financial advisers and likely college coaches,” one source in the name, image and likeness (NIL) industry told ESPN. “He previously arranged handles numerous entities during the past & most recently was well known because the main recruiter for Levels.”

In June, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick joined Levels Sports Group as somebody and head of athlete development, he announced on Twitter.

This is not the very first time Flores has faced charges linked to sexual assault. In 2009, Flores was charged with raping and sodomizing a 21-year-old woman in Pasadena. His bail was set at $1.1 million.

In accordance with court papers obtained by ESPN, Flores was charged with three counts: unlawfully kidnapping and carrying away the girl to allegedly commit rape/sodomy; sodomy by anesthesia or controlled substance; and rape by usage of drugs. Flores, who at that time coached football at Cathedral SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL in LA, was found not liable on all three charges following a 17-day trial in July of 2010.

The defense had argued that following a nights heavy drinking on her behalf 21st birthday, the girl was intoxicated and was found outside several houses from her house with Flores kneeling beside her. The girl said Flores had sexual activity with her while she was incapacitated. The prosecution argued Flores must have realized she was struggling to provide consent or resist.

“They just believed whatever he said,” the girl, who asked to stay anonymous because of the sensitivity of the problem, told ESPN in a telephone call. “The complete narrative through the trial was that nothing happened. … It had been just gross. I simply felt alone and like they made me out to be crazy.”

The girl said she had “zero connection” to people in today’s case. But she added: “I knew today was coming, but that is a whole lot worse than I thought.”

ESPN’s Pete Thamel contributed to the story.

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