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RACINE – A former volunteer wrestling coach at Horlick High School has been charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office in a 27-count complaint related to child sex crimes.

Benigno Q. Velasquez, 60, of Racine, made an initial court appearance on Wednesday where cash bond was set at $25,000, according to online court records. He was placed under house arrest with GPS monitoring through the Racine County Alternatives Program. He was also ordered to have no access to the Internet, no computer devices with Internet capabilities and no contact with minor children.

Velasquez, who volunteered as a wrestling coach at Horlick between 2008 and 2012, is accused of groping underage boys and taking photos of underage boys showering in 2011 and 2012. His brother, identified by the Racine Journal Times as a Horlick assistant wrestling coach Leonard Velasquez, has been suspended by the Racine Unified School District. The investigation is continuing.

Charges filed this week against Benigno Velasquez include: use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, child enticement, three counts of sexual assault of a child by a person who works or volunteers with children, 16 counts of capture an image of nudity without consent and six counts of possession of child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation started in February when Mount Pleasant Police were contacted by a resident who had created a profile of a 15-year-old boy named “Wyatt” on an online dating app called “Grindr.” An individual, later identified as Velasquez, was sending sexually oriented messages to the account.

The messages ultimately led to a meetup between Velasquez and “Wyatt” at Dunkin’ Donuts, 6026 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant, on Feb. 27. Velasquez was taken into custody by Mount Pleasant Police. He was later charged with use of a computer to facilitate a crime, child enticement-sexual contact and attempted sexual intercourse with a child.

After the arrest was reported by The Journal Times, police were contacted in early March by a former Horlick wrestler, who had joined the team as a sophomore in 2009. The person said that Velasquez, known to the wrestlers as “Benny”, would grab wrestlers, including him by the groin. The former wrestler also said that Velasquez had his cell phone out in the locker room and appeared to be “recording the wrestlers as they were coming out of the shower,” the complaint stated. The person also said “he stopped showering at the school because of Benny” and estimated that the defendant grabbed his genitals “over 100 times and there ‘like 3 straight years of this happening.” The wrestler said he came forward because “he did not want the defendant to get away with victimizing people.

After obtaining former wrestler’s statement, Mount Pleasant Police investigators executed a search warrant of Velasquez’ residence where they took custody of cell phones, laptops, tablets, memory cards, a memory card reader and a color photo. Images found in the electronics “included photos of naked boys in what appeared to be a locker room setting.”

In April, a second former Horlick High wrestler contacted police. That person, a student from 2008 to 2012, said his time with the wrestling staff was “emotionally traumatizing.” He also said when he was recently contacted by Velasquez, the text was “very triggering” for him. He stated that Velasquez would touch his groin while wrestling and, on one occasion, told him to take off his shirt and “wear very tight underwear.”

The two former wrestlers help investigators identify 16 different students who were photographed while nude at Horlick High School. The photo date stamps were between November 2011 and November 2012, according to the complaint.

A preliminary hearing for Velasquez is scheduled for May 13 at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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