Sunday, December 3, 2023

No charges for former UNCW Women’s Soccer coach accused of sexual assault

The investigation includes claims made in 2004, handled "internally" by UNCW and not reported to law enforcement until recently.

WILMINGTON — District Attorney Ben David has announced he would not be bringing any charges against former UNCW Woman’s Soccer Coach Paul Cairney.

The story of Cairney’s alleged sexual assaults began in 1996

“In 2007, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office received information alleging acts of sexual misconduct by Mr. Cairney that were said to have occurred in 1996, when the now 26-year-old woman was a 15-year-old camper attending a girls’ soccer camp at UNCW, David said in a statement to the media. in other words, the victim – who would now be approximately 37 years old – reported the misconduct about ten years after it happened.

“She stated that she was now able to speak of the events and that she wanted to prevent other girls from being placed at risk. She also made it clear to the Sheriff’s Office that, while she was providing this information, she did not want criminal charges to be filed. Nonetheless, the Sheriff’s Office pursued the allegations but determined that there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest. The existence of this investigation was not brought to the attention of my office, the UNCW administration or UNCW Police,” David said.

In December of 2017 social media posts regarding the 1996 incident were brought to the attention of UNCW administration who then began a further inquiry.

According to David, administrators discovered another allegation of sexual misconduct against Cairney, this one made in 2004. The 2004 report was handled internally by UNCW and no law enforcement agency was notified.

David said, “In light of the discovery of this 2004 email, UNCW Administrators as well as UNCW Police notified my office in February of this year. At that time, I immediately requested that the SBI investigate the claims. With respect to the 1996 claim, despite the challenges of investigating events that occurred more than twenty years ago, the SBI made every effort to locate persons having any knowledge of the alleged incident.

“Investigators were unable to develop any new information that would change the original determination made by Sheriff’s Office investigators. As for the 2004 report, SBI could not identify or locate the sender of the email. As a result, my office is not able to proceed with criminal charges against Mr. Cairney as it pertains to those victims,” he concluded.

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