A fencing coach from California has been accused of grooming a female student for several years, from the time she turned 16, sexually abusing her but promising her parents he would protect her virginity until they are married.
Ra’ad ‘Rod’ Rabieh, 49, was arrested in Sunnyvale on July 7 on two counts of oral copulation with a minor.
According to a press release from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, over the course of multiple years Rabieh, the owner of The International Fencing Academy, began ‘grooming’ his female student by buying her gifts, ‘treating her differently from other fencing students’ and traveling alone with her to competitions.
California fencing coach Ra’ad ‘Rod’ Rabieh, 49, has been charged with two counts of oral copulation with a minor
When the victim was 17 years old, Rabieh allegedly began molesting her.
Authorities said most of the sexual encounters took place at Rabieh’s apartment in Sunnyvale, while some of the incidents occurred when the coach and his student traveled together out of state to attend competitions.
The allegations against Rabieh, a native of Jordan who has been coaching fencing in the US since 1996, first emerged when his alleged victim, now a woman in her 20s, reached out to the US Center for SafeSport in February.
According to a police report cited by The Mercury News, the woman told a detective that Rabieh began treating her differently than other students as soon as she turned 16 in 2014. By then she had been attending his fencing school for three years.
When the student turned 17 years old, she claimed her and Rabieh’s relationship turned sexual.
The woman estimated that she and the coach had about 10 sexual encounters.
According to the accuser, she once thought that she and Rabieh were in a real relationship, and once she turned 18 she said the two began having sexual intercourse.
The woman explained that when she learned about the concept of grooming, she ‘felt Rabieh had groomed her and manipulated her while acting as her coach,’ according to the report.
The accuser’s mother recounted for the police how during a dinner after her daughter’s 17th birthday, Rabieh told the teen’s family he was in love with her and wanted to marry her.
Rabieh, a native of Jordan and the owner of The International Fencing Academy in Sunnyvale, California, is accused of grooming a female student beginning when she was 16 in 2014, and sexually abusing her after she turned 17
‘He made it very clear he valued her virginity and would protect it until they were married,’ the report stated.
The girl’s mother said she was ‘furious’ with the coach and had her daughter move away for college to get her away from Rabieh.
In March, police arranged a phone call between the former fencing student and Rabieh to try and get him to confess to engaging in sexual acts with her before she turned 18, but he would not take the bait.
In April, USA Fencing banned Rabieh from coaching or transporting minors without other adults present
Rabieh later agreed to be interviewed by the police, telling them that he had kissed or dated two others female students in their 20s.
He reportedly blamed his accuser of initiating a deeper relationship between them, claimed her parents were supportive of it, and admitted to kissing the girl and being touched by her sexually.
But he ended the interview after being asked if he touched the teen in a sexual manner, according to the report.
In a later text message exchange with his accuser, Rabieh threatened to pursue legal action against the woman, her parents and her boyfriend.
‘I don’t want this, but I have to defend myself from the lies by telling the whole truth,’ he reportedly wrote to the woman. ‘I would have never thought that you would do such a thing.’
Before he was charged, USA Fencing in April banned Rabieh from transporting minors without other adults present and he was only permitted to coach athletes while under the direct supervision of other adults, according to the organization’s website.
His coaching status is unclear since the charges were filed.