A 59-year-old man who volunteered with Spokane-area volleyball clubs during the past four years is under federal investigation for inappropriate contact with minors, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced Monday.
Investigators are seeking information to identify potential victims of Sergio Donizetti Luciano, who is in federal custody. Luciano is a fugitive from Brazil with a prior conviction for rape of a minor, federal officials said.
HSI officials said there may or may not be victims in the U.S.
Among the clubs Luciano volunteered with are the Extreme Volleyball Club in Liberty Lake and the College Preparatory Academy (CPA) volleyball club. Both are affiliated with the Evergreen Region Volleyball Association; a representative was not immediately reached for comment.
Luciano was most recently a head coach for a team of 12-year-olds and another team of 16-year-olds, said Extreme Volleyball Club Director Ellen Cummings. The team’s assistant coach will take over the team of 16-year-olds as they wrap up their season with one more game in Boise, she said.
Extreme announced Luciano joined the club in 2019 in a Facebook post, which listed he spent 32 years as a coach, including a stint as assistant coach for the 2004 Olympic gold medal-winning Brazilian men’s team and a master’s degree in high performance sports training.
Cummings said she is not aware of complaints from anyone in her organization about Luciano related to inappropriate behavior with children.
Cummings said Luciano was subjected to three background checks – including an international check – in the two years he spent with the club, as per league requirements.
“Personally, I was shocked when I heard he was arrested and got the details about it,” Cummings said. She added, “I have to say, in fairness, he was a really good coach. I spent plenty of time with him, and the kids liked him. He knew volleyball. We were excited to have him.”
Wade Benson, director of CPA volleyball, said there was “nothing we could tell” in the approximately six months Luciano was with the club that suggested any inappropriate behavior. Benson said Luciano was released by the club in 2018.
“The way that he presented a practice plan did not indicate high-level experience,” Benson said. “Therefore, that kind of misinformation led to us just saying, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ ”
Anyone with information can submit an anonymous tip by calling the HSI Tipline at (866) DHS-2423 or by filling out an HSI Tip Form.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.