Ahwatukee man accused of molestation

Richard Gallegos accused of molesting boys

A sex abuse case that was closed years ago for a lack of evidence led Tuesday to the arrest of an Ahwatukee man who is accused of molesting two boys on a club baseball team, Chandler police said.

Richard Allen Gallegos, 53, of the 1700 block West Wildwood Drive in Ahwatukee, was arrested by Chandler police on suspicion of a long list of sex charges stemming from incidents involving two victims, according to Sgt. Dan Mejia, a police spokesman.

The charges include five counts of sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of children, according to court documents. Detectives wrote that the abuse occurred while Gallegos was a coach for a club baseball team that practiced in Ahwatukee, Chandler and Tempe.

Club baseball teams, often referred to as travel teams, generally attract serious players who are hoping to advance into college or even professional baseball after they graduate from high school. The teams typically travel to tournaments played in Arizona and other states.

The court document said the case against Gallegos crystallized when a male victim, who is now 21, told police that Gallegos had molested him when he played on the team when he was 11 to 14 years old.

One incident recounted by the court document accused Gallegos of sexually abusing a victim while in a bathroom at Sun Ray Park in Ahwatukee.

 Other incidents described abuse committed while Gallegos was supposedly consoling a victim after the team lost a game. Yet another incident occurred while Gallegos drove a victim to another teammate’s birthday party, according to police.

The young man told police that a second player on the team had revealed to him that he also had been abused in a similar manner by Gallegos.

The second victim, who also was 11-14 years old at the time, was interviewed by detectives and recounted sexually abusive incidents to police, Mejia said.

Mejia said police had dropped the previous investigation in 2009 because the boys declined to reveal the abuse.

“During this time, Gallegos helped coach a club baseball team in Ahwatukee and volunteered as a baseball coach at Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler.  Detectives at the time did not have enough evidence to charge Gallegos with a crime,’’ according to a Chandler police press release.

Seton sent an email to parents stating:

 "A former Seton volunteer baseball coach from 2009-2011, Richard Gallegos, has been arrested by the Chandler Police Department on charges of abuse against two former students. We are cooperating with the police investigation and we seek to learn more about the situation. Please contact the Chandler Police Department If you have any information concerning these crimes.

"Seton Catholic is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God. Great efforts have been made to put systems into place to keep our young people safe."

Police do not know if Gallegos was still coaching since 2011 and the case is still under investigation.

Mejia said he does not know specifically why the boys chose to come forward as adults, but it is a pattern police have seen many times on sex cases.

“With victims of this type of terrible sexual abuse, it not uncommon for them not to disclose it earlier. They wait until they are ready,’’ Mejia said. “A lot of times, it might be fear, it might be shame, there are a lot of reasons.’’

Because the victims cooperated, police were able to corroborate the incidents and to arrest Gallegos on Tuesday in the 3400 block of West Frye Road in Chandler.

Gallegos admitted to police that he had a close relationship with one of the victims but denied touching either boy inappropriately when they were members of his team.

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