Ukrainian hockey coach held in Pa. fondling case

Photo courtesy of Druzhba'78 Hockey Club & School

January 20, 2012 3:06:45 PM PST
A hockey coach from Ukraine is facing charges after accusations that he fondled one of his players.

48-year-old Ivan Pravilov has coached hundreds of children over the years at hockey clinics along the East Coast, including the Philadelphia suburbs.

Pravilov even has his own travelling team. Most atheletes stay with host families but earlier this month, investigators say five boys slept in his apartment in Mt. Airy.

Authorities say Pravilov had indecent contact with one of the 14-year-olds in the apartment, and with another player at a host family's home in July.

Officials have also said that Pravilov hit one of the boys when he found out the boy told others what happened.

"Basically the defendant confronted the minor and asked 'Should I kill you?' then smacked him on the side of the neck," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan.

Hundreds of boys have been through Pravilov's programs, including some who've gone on to play in the NHL.

In court Friday, Provilov was ordered held until a preliminary hearing next week.

He also expressed concern for the boys on his team.

"It's urgent. Because now my team is beheaded," he begged the judge, speaking through an interpreter.

An assistant coach says the boys are being well taken care of by host families until they can return to Ukraine.

Prosecutors want Pravilov held indefinitely without bail.

"We're seeking detention on the grounds that the defendent is a risk of flight and a danger to the community. These are very serious allegations of sexual abuse of a minor," said Morgan.

Pravilov could get up to eight years in jail on the current charges and even longer if more alleged victims come forward.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.