The former owner of SportsZone in Derry is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl several years ago in what she alleges was a pattern of abuse involving emotional manipulation and sexual exploitation after she joined a girls’ basketball team.
Dennis Reed, 75, of Derry, was indicted this month by a Rockingham County grand jury on 11 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Reed, who was a coach and owned SportsZone at the time, is accused of using his position of authority as a “coach, boss and/or acted as a father figure” to sexually assault the girl on several occasions between 2004 and 2007.
The indictments allege the assaults occurred at his house, a movie theater and SportsZone, an indoor sports complex used by many local young people.
The criminal case comes a year after the alleged victim, who is now 30, filed a 25-page lawsuit detailing the allegations against Reed.
Reed, SportsZone Corp., and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) were named as defendants in the suit filed in August 2018 in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Reed has denied the sexual assault allegations and other claims in his response to the suit.
According to the suit, the alleged victim was 10 years old in 2000 and wanted to play basketball with the New Hampshire Shooting Stars, an AAU program based in Derry and Londonderry.
The suit said the alleged victim met Reed when she attended her first tryout and he took her aside and introduced himself as a coach for an older girls’ team.
“Reed used his position of authority to engage in personal and intimate discussions with (the alleged victim), prevailing upon her to confide and trust in him. She, a minor, did confide in him regarding her desire for a father figure and a male role model,” said the suit, filed through her Portsmouth attorney, John Sherman.
Among other things, the suit alleges AAU failed to supervise and monitor Reed, which “empowered and emboldened him to continue his conduct and, in fact, increase the severity of his abuse.”
In 2002, when the alleged victim was approximately 11, she began taking private basketball lessons from Reed. She alleges he groomed her for sexual activity.
“He began giving her gifts of money and jewelry as a way to further control her and induce her to capitulate to his own sexual desires,” the suit said.
She also claims that he sent her notes, letters and cards that he signed with “love,” “coach,” and “dad.”
Reed has denied he used his role as a coach to groom her and denies sending the notes signed using affectionate words.
The alleged victim claims she was eventually hired to work as concession staff and that he began sexual touching when she was 15, before and after “private lessons” at SportsZone.
She claims the abuse continued when he asked her to coach with him after she turned 18.
“The relationship was so twisted that (the alleged victim), even upon reaching the age of majority, did not comprehend or understand the severity of the abuse to which Reed — her coach, boss and father-figure — subjected her,” the suit said.
She claims he controlled her relationships with others, including who she dated, how and when.
Assistant County Attorney Kristin Vartanian commended the “extraordinary bravery” of the alleged victim.
“While the Derry Police Department conducted an extensive investigation, whenever someone is charged with crimes of this nature there is a concern that there are other victims out there who have not yet come forward,” she said.
Vartanian encouraged anyone with information about the case or Reed to contact Derry police Detective Kimberly Bouse at 432-6111.
Manchester lawyer Michael Iacopino, who is representing Reed in the lawsuit, said he couldn’t comment on the allegations and had not seen the indictments.
Reed owned SportsZone until April 2018 when Joe Goodwin acquired the business. Reed still owns the real estate, which he leases to Goodwin, who is now president and the sole shareholder of SportsZone.
In a statement released Tuesday, Goodwin said all of the allegations of sexual misconduct occurred before he acquired SportsZone and that he wasn’t made aware of the claims until August 2018 when the lawsuit was filed.
After learning about the allegations last year, Goodwin said he took immediate action by barring Reed from entering the premises.
“I and my staff have taken all possible steps to ensure that Reed does not step foot on SportsZone property. Reed at one time was the face of SportsZone. He is no longer,” Goodwin said in the statement released through his attorney, Ronald J. Caron
Goodwin said that the children participating in sports at the complex are “safe and secure.”
Reed is scheduled to be arraigned in the sexual abuse case on Oct. 4.