Sean Stern, the former program director at the recently defunct Palm Coast’s Professional Sports Pathways, a specialized soccer academy for youths, was arrested Thursday on two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation charges, six months after he was fired from the academy because of suspicious activity there. The charges relate to allegations of molestation of two male victims between age 12 and 16 on multiple occasions, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Stern, 35, last a resident of 422 South Central Avenue in Flagler Beach, had left the county, and was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Tacoma, Washington, where he was booked at the Pierce County jail on no bond.
A heavily censored sheriff’s incident report released today and dating back to April notes that the evening of April 14, a sheriff’s deputy went to Stern’s residence in Flagler Beach, the day after Ryan Maloney, head of the Palm Coast academy, fired him “due to this suspicious activity.” The activity is not specified in the uncensored portion of the report, but a sheriff’s release notes that the alleged molestations had taken place “at multiple locations within
Flagler County between January 2015 and April 2016.”
Professional Sports Pathways’ Center of Excellence is a specialized private school that offers students a full curriculum of instruction centered on soccer and player development, for $4,500 a year in tuition. The school had some 60 students last October. It had operated out of an old bank building at the old Palm Harbor shopping center until recently, gained exposure last year when it was among the bidders to take over the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club. The school board did not accept that proposal. The school had a core staff of soccer coaches, several of them from England, including Maloney. It had plans to move out of the bank building into a property of its own, but has since closed: it last posted on its Twitter account in late June and on its website, which is still live, in April. Maloney did not return calls and an email Thursday.
According to the sheriff’s release, detectives began investigating Stern in April, after he was fired and moved to Seattle. Stern, the release states, has also coached at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and been affiliated with Matanzas High School, Jacksonville Armada, FC United, West Ham International Academy and Pure FC. He has ties to soccer programs throughout Florida, as well as in Texas and North Carolina.
Flagler County schools spokesman Jason Wheeler, however, wrote that “According to our records, Sean Stern has never been employed by Flagler Schools. However, we understand the soccer community in Flagler County is large and crosses many boundaries. We encourage our parents to speak with their children. We also want it parents to know our schools have professional counselors available to help if needed.”
The Sheriff’s Office urges anyone whose male child participated in soccer programs with Stern to talk to their children and find out whether they have been victimized or who may have vital information about Stern. All information about Stern should be provided to sheriff’s Detective Jorge Fuentes at (386) 586-4890. Detectives are also seeking any information on Stern that the public may have. Callers can remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at (888) 277-8477 (TIPS).