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Candler's Immigration Status Under Scrutiny After Resignation

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Following two weeks of scrutiny over prior convictions for child molestation, federal immigration agents took former North Carolina State University diving coach John Candler into custody one day after he turned in his resignation.

The 63-year-old Candler, a native of England, has been dealing with federal immigration officials for years. But his attorney does not know what made them detain him Thursday.

"Nothing has changed for them to pick him up now," attorney Lynn Calder told WRAL Friday afternoon.

Candler's job status has changed. He was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago after N.C. State received an e-mail about Candler from a woman in Michigan.

The e-mail said Candler had pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor back in 1966.

Candler told WRAL that N.C. State knew about the case when he was hired. He said the school also stood by him when he pleaded guilty to similar charges in 1985 in Wake County.

Candler served probation in both cases.

"I have two ghosts," Candler said. "They're fully exposed."

The Scarborough, England, native said the renewed attention on his convictions was so painful for his family that he resigned from the job he held for 35 years.

Now, one chain of events has merged into another.

The Department of Homeland Security said that Candler did not disclose under oath his criminal record when he applied for citizenship in 1996. He was deemed deportable, and the case has been in hearings and appeals ever since.

When he resigned this week, Homeland Security officials considered him a flight risk and had him detained.

"We saw him as a threat to the community, because of his previous convictions," said Sue Brown, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Atlanta, "and he has no ties and is likely to abscond with the loss of his job."

Candler was in the Johnston County jail Friday.

In 2000, immigration authorities ordered Candler to leave the country. But a Supreme Court decision in another case stalled that order, Brown said.

Calder said Candler is not a flight risk because he has family in the area and is still employed by N.C. State in an administrative role. She said she is trying to get a bond hearing for her client in Atlanta next week.

"The reason he came to our attention is he has no job and is subject to leave the community or country," Brown said. "He has nothing to keep him there.

"Because of the immigration charges pending, the judge is now considering his appeal. That's why we arrested him."

Tina Grad, who grew up swimming at Candler's local swim club, said she is puzzled by the recent turn of events.

"This is a drop in the bucket compared to what he's done in his life," Grad said.

Grad said she hopes the public will consider contributions Candler has made throughout his career and not just this recent chain of events.

"He's a heck of a coach," Grad said.


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