LANSING (WWJ) – A 20-year-old assistant track coach at a West Michigan junior high school is accused of using his position of authority to solicit sex from student athletes.
Tyler Groenwald, of Bear Lake, surrendered to authorities on Friday. He’s facing several charges, including four counts of accosting children for immoral purposes, four counts of using a computer to commit a crime and one count of distributing or promoting child sexually abusive materials.
At the time of the alleged offenses, Groenwald was employed as a track coach for Onekama Middle School and was also a volunteer with the Bear Lake cross country team.
An investigation was launched in 2013, after Manistee County Police received a complaint from a former student athlete coached by Groenwald. The student claimed that Groenwald attempted to solicit sex from him and requested nude pictures via text messages.
A joint investigation by the Attorney General, Michigan State Police and Manistee County Police Department revealed that Groenwald had “sexted” several other students, some he coached and some he met through their older siblings, according to court documents. It appears that this predatory conduct had been allegedly occurring for more than a year, and includes victims from three Manistee County-area high schools.
“It took tremendous courage for the students to come forward and we applaud them for potentially preventing additional children from becoming victims,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.
Groenwald was dismissed as a paid employee after Onekama Schools learned he was being investigated on criminal charges. The schools allege that the criminal conduct did not occur on school time nor on school premises during Groenwald’s employment or volunteer duties.
Police believe there may be additional students who had contact with Groenwald of a sexual nature, including through text messages or social media. Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at 313-456-0180.
Groenwald was released on a $25,000 surety bond out of Manistee’s 85th District Court. He’s next due in court on March 19.