CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Catawba College Hall of Fame and Steele Creek Soccer Club coach Ralph Wager has been arrested and charged with three counts each of indecent liberties with a child, crimes against nature and first-degree sex offense.
Investigators said it is the result of a two-month investigation after a man came forward alleging Wager engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with him in the late 1980’s.
At that time, Wager was a soccer coach and physical fitness instructor at Catawba College in Salisbury. He was inducted into Catawba College’s Hall of Fame in 2008. The school said it was notified of Wager’s arrest and is cooperating fully with the criminal investigation.
Authorities aren’t saying if the alleged crimes happened on school grounds but an arrest warrant shows they took place in Rowan County.
Investigators also aren’t saying what evidence they have against Wager, only that it is strong enough to move forward with charges. It’s unclear if Wager confessed when they questioned him.
Wager was arrested Tuesday night at his home in east Charlotte.
The victim was a 9-year-old boy when the incidents started and was 12 years old when they ended, the warrant states. The boy was not under Wager’s soccer instruction at the time but was involved in a different athletic activity.
Wager, 69, was placed in jail under a $500,000 bond.
The Steele Creek Soccer Club has removed Wager from its website. He has been suspended indefinitely as a coach due to the Steele Creek Athletic Association’s zero-tolerance policy.
Neighbors said Wager was quiet but friendly and they never saw kids at his house.
“It just makes my skin crawl,” said neighbor Kurtis Joyner. “People should leave kids alone, period. Kids are innocent and you are ruining their life by messing with them at such a young age.”
Wager waived a court appointed attorney on Wednesday and is due in court for a probable cause hearing on August 1.
“This is terrible, I can’t believe this,” said Galina Kogan, who has lived next to Wager for 12 years.