“He used his position of authority as a football coach to groom and sexually assault” the players, prosecutor Adrienne Ferrell said in court.
Through his attorney, Papadopoulos said the charges weren’t true.
“I cannot deny the allegations strong enough on behalf of my client,” defense attorney Rene Sandler said. She added that her office has conducted an investigation into the case and the two purported victims “have told very different stories to others, which we will litigate at a later time.”
District Judge Patricia Mitchell assigned a bond of $15,000 for Papadopoulos and he was released from jail a short time later.
Papadopoulos was first employed by Montgomery County Public Schools in 2016, according to the district. He is on administrative leave.
“These charges are troubling, completely unacceptable and represent a violation of the core values of our school and school system,” Wootton Principal Kimberly M. Boldon wrote in a letter Tuesday to staff members and parents.
Montgomery police said they were concerned that there might be additional victims. Court papers said the alleged abuse occurred at private residences. But in court on Tuesday, Ferrell said one incident occurred on school property.
“It actually happened in a private room at Wootton High School,” Ferrell said.
According to allegations filed in court, detectives began their investigation in February. They spoke with two of Papadopoulos’s former players, who are now adults, who said that several years ago they felt coerced by Papadopoulos because he could improve their football skills, according to the court documents.
Papadopoulos served as offensive coordinator at Wootton, according to press accounts and the school system.
“The two biggest rules I have with players are honesty and fun,” he once told the Wootton school newspaper Common Sense.
Papadopoulos had starred as a quarterback at the school before going on to the University of Maryland, the paper reported.
Papadopoulos earned a business degree focusing on finance, Sandler said, and had no criminal record before the case.
“He has cooperated in this investigation,” Sandler said in court. “I turned him in. We turned his phone in voluntarily without a search warrant.”
His father, mother and sister were in court on Tuesday to support him, the attorney said.
In court papers, detectives said the first former player they spoke with — identified as Victim A — recalled that in the summer of 2017, Papadopoulos invited him to his home in Gaithersburg.
“He understood the meetings to be as player-coach,” investigators wrote.
The boy’s family knew of the visits.
“They trusted him and believed that the defendant was helping the victim become a better athlete and get recruited to college,” Ferrell said.
In Papadopoulos’s basement, the coach helped the player stretch before the touching became inappropriate, court documents said.
“Worse every time,” court documents indicate the alleged victim said, adding that the youth was talked into stripping down to his underwear. “Papadopoulos did this under the guise that he needed to see Victim A’s muscle growth.”
The incidents occurred when Papadopoulos was 23, according to court records.
The victim told detectives that he tried to stop Papadopoulos from fondling him.
“When the victim would ask him to stop or say that he had to go home, the defendant responded with either ‘Five more minutes’ or ‘You’ll be fine,’ ” Ferrell said. “The victim told police that he never felt that he had the power to say no because the defendant was his coach and was helping him get into college.”
The second victim said that during the 2017 season, he and Papadopoulos communicated outside of practice over Snapchat, according to court records. The coach persuaded the youth to send him photos of him wearing only compression shorts, the charging papers said.
“The defendant claimed that he needed these photos as a means of measuring the second victim’s weight-training progress,” Ferrell said.
The photos became increasingly lewd, according to court records.
The two began spending time together outside of practice, including at the player’s residence, police said. At one point, in the teen’s basement, Papadopoulos spent the night after the two consumed alcohol, charging papers said. The teen awoke to find himself being fondled, court papers allege.
Ferrell alleged that Papadopoulos “normalized” the behavior.
“One of the victims only realized that this was inappropriate when he went on to play college football and realized that his coaches didn’t train him in the way that the defendant had trained him,” Ferrell said.
Sandler said many people know her client completely differently.
“Since this case has generated public attention, my office has received numerous calls in support of my client from parents and former players,” she said, adding that as the case progresses, “the actual facts through live witness testimony and other admissible evidence will reveal something very different.”