A Lacrosse team board member has been convicted of a sex crime for attempting to solicit sex from 17-year-old female team member. James L. McEnerney, 61, of Overland Park, Kansas, pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct in Platte County Associate Circuit Court on July 24.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “This defendant used his position of trust and influence to try to entice a young team member into sex, while also saying he could help her play college lacrosse. Fortunately, she had the strength to reject his shameful advances.”
McEnerney was an onsite coordinator and board member for a local Lacrosse club team on which the victim played. He offered to help her get recruited to play in college and then began to send her sexually-suggestive texts.
The victim’s mother found the text messages and confronted McEnerney. McEnerney apologized and admitted what he did was “disgusting” and that he was “ashamed.”
In text messages to the 17-year-old, McEnerney offered to be the girl’s “sex coach.”
McEnerney offered to send the girl pictures of his genitals. She refused. He also attempted to get the victim to engage in sexual conversations with him, which she declined.
The victim also described an incident where McEnerney touched her thigh and kissed her on the cheek. She said his advances made her feel scared and uncomfortable.
Prosecutors charged McEnerney with the class C misdemeanor of sexual misconduct in the second degree, which is punishable by a maximum of 15 days in jail. Since the age of consent in Missouri is 17, that misdemeanor charge was the most serious crime McEnerney committed by soliciting the girl for sex.
Zahnd expessed frustration with the light punishment available for the crime the defendant committed. “Today, club sports are vitally important athletic training grounds for many children,” he said. “If a high school coach has sex with a high school player, it is felony regardless of the victim’s age. That should also be true for a club sport.”
Zahnd called on the Missouri legislature to make it a felony for any adult affiliated with club athletics to attempt to have sex with a player.
Missouri State Representative Kevin Corlew, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, agrees and plans to sponsor legislation to close the club sports loophole.
Corlew said, “From Jerry Sandusky to Larry Nasser, we've seen people misuse sports as a way to facilitate the sexual abuse of young people. Enough is enough. Parents should be able to have their kids play sports without fear that they'll be sexually exploited. I'll work with the legislature to change the law to protect young athletes from shameless coaches and trainers who prey on young athletes.”
The case was investigated by the Gladstone and Parkville Police Departments. It was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chris Seufert.
A photo of McEnerney is above. If you need addition information, please contact our office’s media liaison, Tanya Faherty.
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third St., Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri 64079