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Posted at 3:46 PM ET, 02/ 1/2010

Teacher charged with sex assault of 12-year-old

By Washington Post editors

A physical education teacher at Center Ridge Elementary School has been arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a student, according to the Fairfax County police department.

Sean Lanigan, of 15433 Eagle Tavern Lane in Centreville, has been charged with abduction and aggravated sexual battery of a juvenile under 13 years old.

The victim, a 12-year-old girl, was with a small group of students helping the 43-year-old teacher clean up the gym on Jan. 12. He reportedly picked up the victim, touched her inappropriately, and carried her into a nearby room. When the victim attempted to leave, the teacher allegedly pushed her down and lay on top of her. The victim told him she had to leave and he let her go.

The victim’s parents were told about the incident three days later and reported it to school administrators and police.

Lanigan turned himself into the police on Friday, Jan. 29.

By Washington Post editors  | February 1, 2010; 3:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

dude should be beaten day in and day out until his last day...

Posted by: rockettonu | February 1, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

If this is true, I hope they prosecute him to the absolute fullest extent of the law b/c no child should have to go through that. That being said, I've known this guy and family members for over a decade (having gone through CENTRE - typo, Ms. Norton - Ridge as a student, myself), and that doesn't sound like the person I know... so I'm really hoping this is a gross misunderstanding.

Posted by: VaRedskins | February 1, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Why did it take three days for the school to report the incident to the child’s parents? Someone should have held accountable for not telling the child's parents sooner.

Does it take three days for a parent to be told???? When the principal sent out the email to the parents he did not say if a boy or girl was abused. Coach Lanigan could have abused other students and the parents needed to know what was going on...

The school did not have to name the teacher but asked if any other students may have been put in an uncomfortable situation to come forward and report it.
The School in their attempt to get their story "right" showed little concern for the parent of the child and for Centre Ridge's student body.

Posted by: huetheque | February 1, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lanigan is also a coach for a U13 WAGS team. My daughter's soccer team played against his team twice and was exposed to his screaming tirades and blatant disrespect for the referees in charge of the game and opposing players/coaches. Our team actually witnessed him being sent off the field by a referee. Mr. Lanigan refused to leave the field, berated the referee, and then sat behind the goal for the remainder of the game (against WAGSL rules). We were called to a discipinary hearing in regards to his behavior and his team was forced to forfeit their WIN against our team because of his rude behavior. I hope that his affiliation with the Herndon youth soccer club will be dissolved. This man has no place in youth sports or working with young girls.
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Posted by: mrssmyles | February 1, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Re: huetheque

The article does not say it took the school 3 days to notify parents. It says the parents were notified and then (they) reported it to school admin. and police. The article suggests the victim did not say anything (or other students, whatever the case may be) until 3 days later, not that the school neglected its legal responsibilities to report an alleged incident.

Posted by: VaRedskins | February 1, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

RE: VaRedskins, quote "The victim’s parents were told about the incident three days later and reported it to school administrators and police." sounds like to me the parents were told three days after the incident.

Posted by: huetheque | February 1, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Re: huetheque

How is it possible that the victim's parents "reported it to school administrators and police" if the school reported it to the parents 3 days later? It's not possible for the parents to report it to someone (the admin) who just reported it to the parents. It sounds like the school didn't know and someone outside the school (like the victim, another parent, another student, someone who heard about the incident outside of school) told the parents... who then "reported it to school administrators and police." I just don't want to see the school get the blame for not reporting something they didn't know about when I'm sure that school would report it if they knew. Centre Ridge is an excellent school, in spite of all this disaster.

Posted by: VaRedskins | February 1, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Ok..so Mr. L was my old gym teacher and I happen to think that this whole thing was a misunderstanding. He was a pretty cool guy and I seriously doubt that he had ill intent by picking her up.

Posted by: Gallum6 | February 1, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

@VaRedskins: The girl told her parents 3 days later and then they reported it to the school. That's how the story reads.

Posted by: brai230 | February 1, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

To Mrssmyles - Seriously you have got to be the most ridiculous comment thus far. Aside from the fact that I know the man to be a kind, decent, and respected person in the community one is innocent until proven guilty. You have already convicted the man, as has the first commenter here. You are seriously going to judge the man for this alleged crime based on his behavior at a soccer game. I am surprised your child has made it to travel and this is the first time you have seen a fired-up coach. Maybe you should not be playing at that level if you cannot handle a healthy dose of competitive spirit from the coaches. His behavior as a coach on a soccer field has NOTHING to do with the allegations and you, whoever you are, are a horrible person for even posting something like this. Let's kick the man while he is down. Shame on you. I am a firm believer in karma and after your irresponsible posting am sure you will get yours one day.

Posted by: sanders5 | February 1, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

To Sanders5- I have absolutely not covicted Mr. Lanigan- I was simply sharing my opinion of 2 brief interactions I have had with a man who has made my skin crawl on both occassions I have been around him. As an educator (and a parent) I found it shocking that someone with such a lack of control could be working in the field of education and youth sports.
It might surprise you to learn that I actually hope that these charges are not true, but as the victim of a sexual assualt, I must say that many very terrible people are believed by community members to be "kind, decent, and respected members of the community." Unfortunatley, it often takes a very brave person to bring the truth to light. I commend the girl who had the bravery to speak up. It took me 10 years to do so.
Mr. Lanigan is an adult who will be afforded legal representation in a court system that is designed to protect him. My question for you is how do you feel about the child that this happened to? I, too, believe strongly in Karma- Mr. Lanigan might want to start believing in it, as well.

Posted by: mrssmyles | February 1, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Good evening,
I am the first to want child perverts and abusers off the streets, and particularly out of our schools, but I want this after we have proven guilt.

It seems to me that if this man is guilty, there will be a history of these kinds of shady events. Perhaps this will come out in time. However, those who are writing in who know this man seem supportive.

There are times when children, for whatever reason, misrepresent a situation. The description of the event itself seems pretty childish and almost ridiculous. Why would a pervert behave this way IN FRONT of witnesses??? This doesn't make sense.

As an educator with 30 years in the classroom, I am wondering if anyone has tried to find out about a grudge the child might have against this man.

In the meantime, I am wondering about him --does he have a family? children? What must be happening to them right now? If the child is not being truthful, what an awful thing for this family--they face financial ruin and humiliation.

I vote that we wait and let the police do their jobs--and find out the facts of this tragic-for-all situation.

Posted by: DrMarty | February 1, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

MrsSmyle - Really you haven't convicted him with such statements as he makes your skin crawl? And you commend the girl for stepping forward? And he better start believing in it too? I thought you weren't convicting him. You contradict yourself. Oh, I forgot, you were just sharing your opinion based on 2 brief encounters you had with him. I believe that you are trying to further damage a man's character and who gives you the right? The two situations have nothing to do with one another. You are simply being a mean and spiteful person. Don't convict everyone accused of this crime based on what happened to you. Innocent until proven guilty - not the other way around. Educate yourself on it.

Posted by: sanders5 | February 1, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I have known Coach Lanigan since I was 9-years-old which is more that half of my life, I have worked in soccer clinics with him with mixed gender classes for years and have seen nothing that would even suggest that he was capable of this sort of behavior. He is however a loud man and likes to joke a lot similar to a teacher at my high school who was also accused of such an act, the charges were found not true and the allegations were made up by two students who disliked the teacher, I can only hope that this is a similar situation and I maintain full faith that it is.

Posted by: tacosauce411 | February 1, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Innocent until proven guilty! We have known this kind neighbor, soccer coach, and friend for many years. He is a wonderful family man dedicated to his wife and kids and has been a meaningful contributor to the community in so many ways. It is so sad to see this happen and we hope that justice will prevail. Our thoughts and deepest prayers go out to the Lanigans as they must endure this horrific situation. As said earlier, it just doesn't make sense...

Posted by: mp13 | February 1, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I have known Sean for nearly thirty years. I have coached with him, been to his house, met his family, and, tirades on the soccer field nothwithstanding, I have never had the first inclination that he would ever do something like this. Let's all please remember that he is innocent until proven guilty- people may have had bad experiences with him, but that does not make him a pedophile, The courts will determine his guilt or innocence. If he DID do this, he is obviously a very disturbed person who has put on a heck of an act for three decades. I do not mean to doubt the young lady, I wasn't there obviously, but for now, we just have an accusation, and sometimes accusations have no basis in fact. Sean has children who will bear the brunt of this in any case, and they are old enough to read about their dad. If you want to protect children from harm, I implore you, please don't harm Sean's kids by disparaging their father in public. Thanks.

Posted by: MarcCAZ | February 1, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I play for mr lanigan and when we played that team that made us go to the hearing they made stuff up so we would look bad hes not a bad person at all... he has coached me for a while almost 3 years now and hes such a great person so I know for a fact he did not do that. If I would have to pick a hero to me he would be it because hes funny, respectible, nice, and an amazing coach and dad.

Posted by: megs96 | February 2, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Although all the facts have not been set forth, there are people condemning a man without having been convicted. For instance, mrssmyles writes "This man has no place in youth sports or working with young girls" then later writes "It might surprise you to learn that I actually hope that these charges are not true" then right afterward writes "but as the victim of a sexual assualt, I must say..."

If this person reads back to themselves what they have posted, they would see that they are heavily biased although they pretend not to be. Thank God for a court system or people like this would throw people like Lanigan in jail for not jiving with their own demeanor.

I find it interesting that the FFX County website, from which this Washington Post article was cut and pasted, currently does not have access to the details of this event. They have a line item that shows the accusations, the name of the accused, the address of the accused, but currently do not give access to the link giving details of the event.

I contacted them yesterday to find out why they posted the address of the accused when he has not yet been convicted. They wrote back indicating that "we are mandated by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to release certain information pertaining to felony arrests."

My question to this is "are you mandated to make the information available upon request? Or are you mandated to freely make it available on your website for everyone on the internet to see?"

By placing the address freely on the website, it immediately became public domain and papers like the Post can feel free to publish an address that can compromise the security of an innocent (until proven guilty) man's family.

Posted by: CamRam | February 2, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and rockettonu, I hope you remember what you wrote if one day you find yourself in a similar situation.

Posted by: CamRam | February 2, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

ALL U PPL WHO THINK HE IS GUILTY R STOOPID!
HE IS MY COACH AND WOULD NEVER DO A THING LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!! LISTEN TO SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS HIM, NOT THOSE WHO "HEARD THINGS" I LOVE HIM LIKE A SECOND FATHER, HE ROCKS MY SOX NOT JUST SOCCER SOX BUT EVERYTHINGGGG... I CAN ALWAYS GO TO HIM WEN I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ANYTHINGGG. ..... I KNOW UR INNOCENT, COACH!!!!!!!!!U COACH ME THAT ITS IMPORTANT TO BE A GOOD PERSON ON OUR TEAM TO TELL THE TRUTH AND DO THE RIGHT THING.. U SAY THAT, THATS MORE IMPORTANT THEN BEING A "SUPERSTAR" THANKS FOR EVERYTHINGG YOUUU DO <3..... FROM SARA #4

Posted by: sarabek | February 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

MR. LANIGAN IS AWESOME!!! HE COACHES MY BEST FRIENDS TEAM I WENT TO TRAINING CLINCS AND HES AMAZING!!! EVERYONE WHO KNOWS HIM FEELS LIKE HE AND HIS FAM ARE PART OF THERE FAMILY!DON'T JUDGE SOMEONE JUST BASED ON WHAT YOU HEAR. AND FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO SAY HE YELLS A LOT IN GAMES!? HELLO PLAYING TRAVEL AS I DO MYSELF YOUR GONNA SEE COACHES SCREAM! THE BEST OF THE BEST IS DEFINENTLY LANIGAN! HE IS TOTALLY INNOCENT! MR. L IF YOUR READING THESE EVERYONE SUPPORTS YOU, AND YOUR AWESOME! I CAN COME 2 U 4 ANYTHING!!! U ROCK!!!!!
LUVZ ALWAYZ! RACHEL!!!!

Posted by: sanders5 | February 2, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm in agreement with the folks who posted more reasoned comments suggesting that we need to ensure all the facts are gathered and evaluated before anyone condemns Mr Lanigan...he, like any one of us deserves fair treatment...even in the context of this serious allegation.
What's truly disappointing are the petty comments from people like mrssmyles, who seem to feel it necessary to use this forum to attack this man with juvenile accusations that are intended to do nothing but harm. I suspect most rational folks would agree that mrssmyles' cowardly rant only reaffirms that there is always someone in the crowd who is not quite right (non-clinical assessment of course). I only hope she chooses not to respond and confirm my comments.

Posted by: utep432 | February 3, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Sean Lanigan is simply not capable of this sort of action. He plays with the kids, talks with the kids, and earns the respect of the kids. Years after they leave Centre Ridge, they return to see him. Kids who are in college now are calling to find out how they can help. There are massive numbers of posts supporting him on kids' and parents' FB pages. There are a lot of facts out there known to the local Centre Ridge community and for reasons beyond my understanding, not being put forth as the media castigates a good man, a good teacher, and a pillar of the Centre Ridge and local soccer communities. Yes, what is being reported sounds horrible, but everyone needs to step back and wait until the facts come out. I will not comment on the "accuser" but let me suggest this: why, after 20+ years of teaching and coaching, would he suddenly feel such uncontrollable lust (?) for an 11 year old that he must carry her to a closet-which by the way is a wide open view for anyone in the gym- and lie on top of her? Really? Does that seem plausible? And why did the child not scream, cry, yell- something- at that time? Why did she wait three days to report this? Why did nobody else in that gym- and there were others- not say something? Something smells here even if you don't know the man, and for those of us who do, we can only hope that the media will cover this story when he is absolved of these accusations as diligently as they have felt the need to cover the accusations. Thanks for reading.
Oh- and SMU Rockets soccer mom. Get a grip. Read the WAGS R&D minutes. You are off base. Travel soccer sometimes brings out the worst in parents, you clearly among them.

Posted by: kat16 | February 3, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I've known Sean Lanigan as a exceptional soccer coach and dedicated teacher for almost 15 years. I completely agree with kat16 above when she states that what utep432 says about Sean as a soccer coach is inaccurate. I've been with a couple of Sean's teams when they have competed on the State Cup level and I have never seen him lose control on the field or abuse his players in any way. Sean can certainly be loud but he never berates his kids and rarely comments on the performance of officials; he never allows his players to be disrespectful of the officials on the field. But that has little to do with this outrageous accusation made against him by one of his students at Centre Ridge Middle School. Sean has three kids, including two girls about the age of this child who alleged he acted inappropriately. He loves his family more than anything else in the world. I have complete confidence that ultimately, Sean will be determined innocent of these charges. How easily and completely he will be able to regain his exceptional name and reputation and attitude when he is cleared, is another matter altogether.

Posted by: SoccerFan2 | February 6, 2010 5:20 AM | Report abuse

Um, by the way, the girl who "told on" Mr. Lanigan was saying she was kidding or something.

Posted by: didrud320 | February 8, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

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