Metro Detroit soccer coach accused of sexual misconduct with former player

(WXYZ) - A longtime girl’s soccer coach in Livonia and the Ann Arbor area is accused in a federal civil lawsuit of sexual misconduct. 

The allegations come from a now 30-year-old woman who says this went on when she was 14 and the coach was 27 and played soccer in Livonia.

We’ll call her Elizabeth for this report. She says soccer was her life then, and since she lived with a single, divorced mom they both trusted her coach to drive her to games, home and out of state trips.

The coach is Jeffrey Bobo. His attorney has filed a motion to have the case dismissed and denies the allegations. 

Bobo would not comment to 7 Investigator Jim Kiertzner.

“He was the most influential person in my life,” Elizabeth said. “He took a special interest in me and I admired him.”

The lawsuit details 3 years of allegations starting with Bobo allowing Elizabeth to drive his car as an enticement.  And in the car he began rubbing and massaging her legs - sometimes under the guise of soreness from soccer activities.

The suit also alleges he continually tested her limits by brushing up against her breasts and other parts of her body until she showed signs of resistance. Then he would stop temporarily, according to the suit.

During their first road trip to Ohio, the suit alleges, Bobo became far more frequent and aggressive with rubbing her private parts over her soccer shorts, asking if Elizabeth liked it. He would hug her to rub his pelvis against her while he was aroused. 

He began masturbating while on the telephone, asking her to do the same, according to the lawsuit.

Elizabeth says this came out recently because she went into therapy.

Gigi Colombini is a psychotherapist who says it is not uncommon to keep quiet for so many years. 

“They wonder, am I doing something wrong?,” she said, “Because they trust this person. It colors every step of their lives. They have really dysfunctional relationships.”

Why should people believe Elizabeth now? 

She says, “One of my main goals is to get awareness out there to help protect other kids. It doesn’t matter to me what other people think.”

Last year Elizabeth filed a complaint with Livonia Police, but the statute of limitations expired. 

She found in the police files, they looked at Jeff Bobo in 2014 regarding 250 photos of young girls around the age of 13 in swimsuits on his soccer club smartphone. 

Some were identified as players for the Livonia City Soccer Club. 

The police report states that club officials did not compile a list of the known young girls nor have they made any contact with parents.

Charges were not filed and the case is closed.

Livonia Soccer Club officials did not comment for this report.

The YMCA was also named in the lawsuit, because at the time the Livonia Soccer Club was a part of that organization. 

They released the following statement:

The YMCA has no greater priority than the health and safety of the children in our local community. This lawsuit has brought forward disturbing allegations and we are taking them seriously.

The YMCA is strongly defending itself in this case on legal grounds. Importantly, the co-defendant, Mr. Bobo, has never been an employee of our organization. At the time of the alleged incidents, more than 15 years ago, we believe that Mr. Bobo was an employee of a soccer club in Livonia that our organization was affiliated with, but did not operate.

We have asked the judge to dismiss the YMCA from this case.

“They remained silent when they knew they had a problem,” said Attorney Bill Seikaly, Elizabeth’s attorney.  He’s handled many other similar cases over the years.  “In every single case I’ve had, some adult someplace knew something and didn’t say something.”

Bobo's attorney emailed 7 Action News Thursday night to say his client is no longer coaching soccer.

The lawsuit is pending in Federal Court.

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