Local News

Police: Athletics Instructor Molested 11 Children

Posted March 6, 2008
Updated March 7, 2008

— A former coach at a Sanford children's athletics facility faces charges that he molested 11 children, authorities said.

Investigators said they believe that Phillip Thompson, 31, inappropriately touched 11 children at the Sanford Academy of Cheerleading, Martial Arts, Dance and Gymnastics, at 2731 Lee Ave.

Thompson worked as a trainer and coach at the facility from 2006 until the beginning of 2008, police said.

Officers arrested him Thursday near Charlotte and transported him to the Lee County Jail, where he was being held on a $1 million bond.

The accusations against Thompson emerged when a young girl told her sister about the alleged abuse. The girl's sister told their parents, who went to the police.

Other parents then came forward, police said, because their children's attitudes about the school had changed. The children no longer wanted to go to the academy, a marked change from when they had started there, parents said.


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  • daMoFo Mar 7, 2008

    A couple points. Backgrouns checks only work if the person has a criminal history. A lot of pedophiles never get charged because the victim(s) will not press charges. This is especially true when the first victims are family members.

    Second, I own a business and when someone calls about a reference, I will state that the person worked for me and nothing more. I will not even state if they are eligible to be rehired. I've been sued by a former employee for stating they could not be rehired and will not go through that again. We won the case, but it was a massive stress on me and my family plus very expensive.

  • beachboater Mar 7, 2008

    IF he is guilty, and I stress IF because everyone is entitled to a trial by his peers, hang his buttocks. (the censor doesn't like a shorter version) If, and only IF he is found guilty beyond any reasonable doubt first.

  • Adelinthe Mar 7, 2008

    ahh-fooie -

    The police say he DID it; not just the parents or the media.

    In order for police to outright say it, they need a plethora of evidence or they'd be sued for slander.

    Praying for the children.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 7, 2008

    I'm glad that one child had the sense to tell the parents. I have to ask this--why is there not someone down there to supervise a little closer and ask a few questions to students and parents? He has prpbably been doing this for quite some time. He didn't start over night.

    Parents, I hope that you will always ask your child a few questions about the lessons. This could be at school or any place else where young kids are with an adult. You may head something like this off before someone does more than he is accused of doing.

  • garden Mar 7, 2008

    when he gets to prison he will be living in hell. the other prisoners will see to that.

  • MotherOF4 Mar 7, 2008

    My kids take tumbling lessons at Sanford Academy. They have only had positive experiences. My heart goes out to all of those involved.

  • ahh-fooie.... Mar 7, 2008

    As someone how loves kids....not in a sick way(things like that have to be said nowadays).This isn't just bad for the kids,it's bad for adults who just enjoy kids!
    People have to scrutinize others so close for the protection of their own and you can't blame them!!!!!

    Have you ever been at a ball game and seen a kid digging for their last dime and bought there soda for them...or just give'm a buck! You can't do that anymore people suspect you of a perv.!
    It has just gotten out of hand. Where is self respect.
    The kids suffer all the way around!

  • apebillo Mar 7, 2008

    My child has been going to sanford acadamy for 2 years now. She was not a student of Phil's, but I like many other parents stayed for practice and never saw anything inappropriate being done by ANY coaches or staff,but nobody can watch everyone at all times. We as a gym and family will stand by the school and our children no matter the outcome. It is my belief that If he is convicted by his peers in a court of law, justice will be done by mere man. Then he will be in gods hands. As for the remaining staff our prayers are with you as well as our children. It is important to remember the goals of the academy is to teach the children to work as a team and depend on eachother and to stay active. Dont loose sight of why the academy is run. Keep up the great work!

  • Adelinthe Mar 7, 2008

    amused1 - What a sweet and humble heart you have! Truly!

    Child sexual abusers cannot be rehabilitated. They're attract to the young, just like others are attracted to their opposite or their own kind, or like some are attracted to their own sex. Can you imagine trying to MAKE yourself be attracted to someone of your own gender, let's just say, if you are straight??? That's their conundrum.

    The State of California tried to rehabilitate them, and everything they tried failed until they admitted finally that these people could not be changed rehabilitated.

    I believe out of 11 children, at least one is telling the truth. That and the fact that he has left previous jobs under "suspicious circumstances" was my personal deciding factor, my opinion and nothing more.

    God bless you and yours.

    Rev. RB

  • EasilyAmused Mar 7, 2008


    I agree with you on not hating the person but hating what they have done. It is sad that things like this happen at all and disturbing that the number of occurrences is increasing.

    That being said, your response about Christ knowing a sinner will never change does prove the intent behind my point. I try to reserve judgment where I am able because that is Christ's job and not mine. Christ knows somebody's heart and deeds while I do not (even though I may believe I do). He will never make a mistake when judging, and I often do. I agree it is a judging statement and apologize if I offended you. My intent was not to judge but to provoke thought and point out that while we are told not to tolerate sin, we are told to love the sinner and should give him the benefit of the doubt before publicly convicting him.

    I also agree that *if* he is guilty, then he has no place in society.