PA investigates former Vincentian Academy coach David Zimmerman 14 years after allegations of sexual misconduct
Fourteen years after a Vincentian Academy coach and teacher, David Scott Zimmerman, was forced to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct with basketball players, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is questioning former athletes who played under him, PublicSource reported.
One former athlete told PublicSource that the investigator indicated the state is trying to suspend or revoke Zimmerman’s teaching license, which he believes is still active in Pennsylvania.
According to a previous PublicSource article, Vincentian was aware of allegations of abusive behavior by David Zimmerman at least as early as 1995, when a ninth grade boy and his parents reported Zimmerman to Vincentian officials. The principal at that time doubted the story, but offered to change the boy’s schedule to avoid the coach’s English class. The boy and his family decided to leave the Catholic high school and the principal dropped her inquiry, allowing Zimmerman to continue coaching and teaching.
Three years later in 1998, another athlete accused Zimmerman of abusive behavior. Duquesne University, which operated Vincentian, investigated and found that allegations by the athlete and other boys were credible. In December of 1998, Vincentian forced David Zimmerman to resign.
After McCandless police were notified in, David Zimmerman of O’hara near Pittsburgh was charged with simple assault and corruption of minor, but convicted only on the second charge in 2001. In 2002, Zimmerman was charged with child pornography, but the case was dismissed after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the search warrant was improper.
The most disturbing part of PublicSource’s investigation was revealed just a few weeks ago. It was reported that Zimmerman was working with teens again in Florida and failing to disclose to parents his history of sexual allegations.
Last year, papers were filed in Florida for the Y.E.A. Foundation (Youth development, Extreme sports, and Art talent), listing David Zimmerman as president of the organization with an Okechobee, Florida mailing address. Reportedly, Zimmerman took four boys on overnight trips and allowed them to stay at his house for a couple of weeks. The boys, who say Zimmerman was a “normal guy” and that they hadn’t seen inappropriate conduct, were not aware of Zimmerman’s activities at Vincentian Academy until recently. Despite additional reports from parents and volunteers who state they saw no inappropriate behavior, it is a major red flag when any man takes children on overnight outings alone.
As an attorney for victims of childhood sexual abuse, I have seen hundreds of lives destroyed by sexual abuse at the hands of a man who was trusted to be alone with a child. Even if child protection laws improve and the problem of sexual abuse in schools and institutions gets better, predators will always find a way to get near children. My best advice to parents is to always err on the side of caution. When a child is sexually abused, it is typically by someone they know, love, and trust—which makes it even harder to reveal this painful secret. That’s why as parents, we need to speak to our kids about boundaries, stay alert, trust our instincts, and act before it’s too late.