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FBI brings federal sex charges against Hartford teen basketball coach

Danny Lawhorn of Hartford is accused of enticing a minor to have sex. The alleged 17-year-old victim was a player in a basketball league he coached.
Credit: FOX61

HARTFORD, Conn — New details are emerging in a disturbing sexual assault case involving a former local teen basketball coach.

A 16-page federal affidavit details how 30-year-old Danny Lawhorn allegedly used his position of authority in an amateur basketball league to entice a 17-year-old female player into having sex. The affidavit alleges that she is not the only victim.

“We’re not dealing with a child. We're dealing with a person who is not only now an adult but was three weeks shy of her 18th birthday at the time,” said Lawhorn’s criminal defense attorney, Jon Schoenhorn.

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“Danny Lawhorn is pleading not guilty and we are going to be fighting these charges,” continued Schoenhorn.

Lawhorn lives on Imlay Street in Hartford and is accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, who was a player in the American Athletic Union’s Bria Holmes Elite basketball league, for which he coached. Hartford Police arrested Lawhorn on October 2.

“There was a lot to look at here. Phones and electronics and search warrants and things like that," Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said.

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Phone records revealed that Lawhorn allegedly texted the 17-year-old a voice message inviting her to his room.

“You wanna do me a real solid? Favor? Come stretch these legs out bro and massage this hamstring and groin. Please, if you can,” Lawhorn allegedly wrote, according to the federal affidavit.

Lawhorn then allegedly sexually assaulted the 17-year-old.

“To me, it is worse because you’ve got that level of trust in a coach or someone who’s opened their home to help someone out and then they take advantage of that situation,” Thody said.

According to the affidavit, Lawhorn allowed the 17-year-old to live in his home while she played basketball in the league. She was an international student trying to get recruited and earn a college scholarship.

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When asked if Lawhorn’s conduct was appropriate, Schoenhorn said, “We could get into the debate about whether it’s ever appropriate for a lawyer to have a relationship with a secretary or for a doctor and a nurse to have a relationship. These are societal questions, they are not criminal statutes, so I’m going to decline to go further than that.”

Two other victims have also since claimed that Lawhorn sexually assaulted them. The FBI has now put out a call for other victims to come forward.

“The fact that the FBI puts out a press release saying does anyone else want to come forward and make allegations? I’ll turn that around and say if anyone wants to come forward and indicate why false allegations are maybe being made, they should let me know as well,” replied Schoenhorn.

Lawhorn is being held on $500,000 bail. In addition to the sex crimes, he is also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl. If found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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