Youth football coach accused of sexually abusing two boys

Posted: November 15, 2013

LEON WATSON seemed like a guy who used football to keep kids engaged and off the street in North Philadelphia, but instead, authorities said, the man neighborhood kids referred to as "coach" used it to get close to young boys and sexually abuse them.

Watson, 24, of Diamond Street near 24th, was charged yesterday with molesting two brothers, ages 8 and 9, after he developed a relationship with them and moved them into his home last month, prosecutors said. Watson was arrested Sunday after police received an anonymous tip, which led them to his home.

According to prosecutors, Watson was a part-time coach for the Rhawnhurst Raiders football team and started his own team in North Philly called the Little Vicks. Coaches with the Raiders, however, claimed that Watson never coached with the team. Instead, they say, he came to practice with two boys, who he was trying to get on to the team but couldn't because he didn't have their birth certificates.

"He was around for six or seven weeks," said one coach, who declined to give his name as the team practiced last night at a field on Solly Avenue near Bustleton. "He said he had to locate the one parent to get the birth certificate from the mom."

The coach noted that Watson helped out a "couple times" with drills, but was not known to the coaches.

The alleged victims lived in Watson's neighborhood and were allegedly assaulted at his home, sources said. It was unclear why the children went to live with Watson. A police source said the children had been returned to their parents.

Watson's neighbors on Diamond Street said they often saw him playing outside with children, but were not aware of a team.

"His sister had kids I think, and I think his mom had two little boys, so he would always have kids," said Tasha Smith. "They would play football in the yard, walk up and down the block, helping him put stuff on the truck, stuff like that, so I didn't think nothing of it. I'm thinking they're his nephews or little brothers.

"Other than that, he speaks [to neighbors]," she continued. "Nothing that would [make you think] that he would do something like that."

Smith said Watson had lived on the block for about a year with his mother and his mother's boyfriend. Smith said he served as DJ for her cookout this summer.

Neighbor Marcella Frisby said she was shocked to hear the allegations.

"I thought he really was doing something good, teaching the kids how to play football," she said. "I have two sons and he asked me did my kids want to be on the team. I told him no 'cause I never seen them like a productive team," she said, referring to Watson's group. "That's really surprising. It hurts my heart 'cause I have kids."

No one answered the door at Watson's home yesterday.

Prosecutors said they believe there may be more victims and are urging parents involved with the two teams to talk with their children.

The District Attorney's Office has a special phone line and email address to report sexual abuse. Individuals can call 215-686-8019 or email da.victimservices@phila.gov.

Watson faces charges of rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and related offenses. He is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 25.

- Staff writer Morgan Zalot contributed to this report


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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