In yet another horrifying case of child sexual abuse at educational institutions, a 26-year-old former basketball coach at a US high school, who 'sextorted' underage female students, recently pleaded guilty to multiple counts of illegal sexual activity with minors.

Joshua Rico, a former assistant coach of the boy's basketball team at Pecos High School, Pecos, New Mexico, pled guilty on 22 December 2022 to five counts of coercion and enticement of minors. Using fake profiles on a social media platform, Rico coerced minor girls into sharing sexually explicit images of themselves and engaging in venereal acts.

Rico also used these accounts to threaten and manipulate victims who were between 14 and 16 years of age to engage in sexual activities with him. He was indicted by a grand jury in May 2021 and is currently being held in custody pending sentencing.

Misuse of His Station

Prison (Representational Picture)Rawpixel

According to evidence presented in court, Rico used his position as the school's basketball coach to target underage female students he knew. He utilised multiple profiles on Snapchat–beginning as early as January 2018–to communicate with these minor girls. Rico assumed two identities, "Chris Lujan" and "Erik Romero", and also had a profile under his real name.

In all cases, he used one or both of his fictitious identities to coax his victims–at least four–into sharing compromising photographs of themselves. Occasionally, he sent photos of his own genitalia before requesting explicit pictures from his victims. Upon receiving the sought images, Rico threatened the minor girls with exposure of the shared content on social media. Next, he demanded that they film themselves while performing sexual acts and send the videos to him.

Exploiting Children Under Duress

Mallet at court (Representational Picture)Piqsels

In two cases, after forcing the victims to share the graphic videos using a fake profile, Rico offered to "help" them relieve themselves from their plight. The adult in his 20s asked the underage girls to perform the same sexual acts with him in lieu of his assistance. According to court documents, at least one of the victims was coerced by Rico into performing coital acts with him.

Rico is the third coach at Pecos High School to be charged with criminal sexual acts against minors in the past five years. He faces up to life in prison and is required to register himself as a sex offender. His sentencing is yet to be scheduled.