swim coach

A school teacher and part-time swim coach at Makos Aquatics Club has been arrested twice over a period of 24 hours on growing allegations of the sexual battery and exploitation of at least two boys.

Joseph Michael Diaz, 31, of Gainesville Florida, was arrested last week on charges of sexually battering a boy he coached over the course of three years. Diaz, a behavioral resource teacher for kindergarten through fourth grade at High Springs Community School is also being charged for coercing another teenage boy into taking nude and sexually explicit images and videos of himself with Diaz’s cell phone.

Diaz, a registered USA Swimming coach and member of the American Swimming Coaches Association, was first arrested last Thursday when a teenage boy came to police with allegations that Diaz had pushed him into taking nude photos and explicit videos. Diaz was released early the next morning, but then re-arrested that same day when another boy, younger than the first, accused Diaz of sexually battering him over a three year period.

According to police reports, the boy tried tell Diaz ‘no’, but the coach continued to molest him, several times a month for three years, according to the victim. The victim did not initially come forward because he said Diaz warned him that he (the boy) would get in trouble if he told anyone. Police are investigating the second round of accusations and they have reason to believe that there were at least two other incidents of which Diaz may have been involved in the coercion or sexual abuse of minors that he coached.

Diaz’s first round of charges were for child pornography, directing the sexual performance of a child and cruelty towards a child. His second round of charges following his second arrest were for the sexual battery of a victim under 12 years old. The Department of Children and Families contacted local police after a confidential report about Diaz having inappropriate contact with a teenage boy was filed through their office. The boy told police that Diaz was his swim coach at the time that the abuse began and that Diaz was soon contacting him outside of practice with inappropriate subject matter involving male genitalia.

As the case is being investigated, police believe there is a strong chance that there may be more victims. GPD spokesman Ben Tobias says, “We have physical evidence and statements that lead us to believe there may be more victims,” Tobias said Friday. “We are still in the process of identifying and interviewing those potential victims.” Diaz attempted to coerce the one boy into using Diaz’s phone to take sexual pictures and videos of himself, but the boy declined on multiple occasions. Police do not believe that there was any sexual contact between Diaz and the boy at this time.

Diaz has since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of his criminal investigation, according to Alachua County Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Johnson. Johnson also commented that school officials do not believe any students where Diaz taught were involved.

Diaz was released from the Alachua County Jail Friday afternoon after posting a $65,000 bail.

Click here to read the full story from the Gainesville Sun.