Monday, June 22, 2009

Bob Bopp Arrested for Sexual Assault

The latest photo of Bob Bopp, the high school hall of fame hockey coach who led Grosse Pointe South to a state championship in 2007, isn't a publicity snapshot or an image captured moments after victory.

It's a blurry mug shot, taken by law enforcement officials after Bopp was booked on suspicion of sexual assault, charges that could land him in jail for the rest of his life.

Bopp, 53, and James McBee, 20, of Highland Township were being held Monday without bond on several felony charges, including raping a 16-year-old Farmington Hills boy in 2007. The men are accused of giving the teen alcohol, showing him pornographic pictures and sexually assaulting him.

Law enforcement officials throughout the region fear there could be others alleging abuse.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Grosse Pointe school district posted a vacancy for the job of Grosse Pointe South varsity hockey coach on its Web site.

Bopp's attorney, Southfield-based Christopher Andreoff, said his client is holding up, but he declined to discuss specifics of the case because he is waiting to see more evidence.

"He's obviously very upset by the charges," Andreoff said of Bopp. "It's very stressful. I told him to have as much patience as he can until we see how this works out."

During a raid of Bopp's home June 16, authorities said they confiscated pornographic images, including videos believed to involve kids. Authorities are now working to identify those in the pictures and on the tapes.

The raid was conducted by federal agents along with officers from the Farmington Hills and Taylor police departments.

Maria Miller, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor, on Monday said: "We would urge anyone with information that may be helpful to the investigation of defendants Bopp and McBee to call their local police."

Parents and team members painted a paradoxical picture of a man fiercely dedicated to his team but also secretive about his personal life.

He was aloof when parents approached him, often avoiding their gaze, even when they came to congratulate him on a good game, one parent said.

'The kids liked him'

"He was very standoffish with parents," said a mother of one team member, who declined to be identified. "He was very hard to get to know, but the kids liked him."

Bryan Sullivan, president of the Michigan Metro High School Hockey League, said Bopp was well-respected and was always advocating for his players to other coaches and nominating them for awards.

Sullivan said several coaches in the league felt a collective guilt for failing to see any warning signs.

"We're all in this for the kids. You don't want to see anything like this happen," said Sullivan, who has known Bopp as a coach for 25 years.

Dan Barry, who took over as president of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association in April 2008, said he was stunned by the allegations.

Barry, the head coach at Warren De La Salle, said he has known Bopp for 16 years.

"He always got the best out of his players," Barry said. "He kept them motivated, and the kids always seemed to like him."

Bopp's preliminary exam is set for June 29.

Meanwhile, Taylor Police Cmdr. Don Helvey said authorities are "bracing for the possibility of other victims."

"That's where we'll do our follow-up -- it's basically waiting to see if anything else comes up from other cases."

Grosse Pointe Schools officials did not return calls Monday to The Detroit News.

'Red flags were ignored'

At a board meeting Monday night, parent Mike Shields told officials his son played on the hockey team for about three years but quit before the end of his senior year because of problems with the coach.

"Red flags were ignored," Shields told the board during the public comments portion of the meeting.

"This issue runs deeper than just the coach."

Bopp started coaching Grosse Pointe South in 1992, amassing a 241-120-12 record before winning the Division II state championship in 2007.

Video: 2007 interview with hockey coach Bob Bopp


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