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Boxing club coach arrested in child sex probe

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POSTED July 16, 2012 8:30 p.m.

SANTA ANA (AP) — The coach of a prominent Southern California youth boxing club was arrested on suspicion of molesting one of his teenage athletes, police said Monday.

Anthony Serrano, 45, was arrested Sunday after the 15-year-old boy's mother contacted police, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told The Orange County Register.

Serrano is head coach at the Santa Ana Boxing Club, a program located in a run-down building in Santa Ana that has been credited with steering dozens of boys and girls away from gangs over the years. Serrano also is the sports director at the Orange County Youth Commission.

Serrano, who was recently placed on administrative leave, did not return a message left on his cellphone.

He is being held on $100,000 bail in advance of a Tuesday court hearing.

The teen joined the club four years ago and spent a lot of time with Serrano because he had talent, Bertagna said, adding that Serrano tried to act as a father figure.

The boy told his mother about the alleged abuse after the family had recently moved away from Santa Ana, the police spokesman said. The abuse occurred at the club, at Serrano's home and at boxing tournaments, Bertagna said.

In 2008, Serrano was accused of engaging in inappropriate conduct with another teen, who was a club member.

The matter was submitted to the Orange County district attorney's office, but prosecutors declined to file charges at the time.

Kate Medina, executive director for the Orange County Youth Commission, declined to comment on Serrano's arrest but told the AP on Monday that he was critical to the youth boxing program.

"Anthony has helped a lot — a lot — of kids so we have to make sure that we can stay intact to keep helping these kids," she said.


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