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AAU Basketball Coach Charged with Federal Enticement of a Minor and Drug Offenses

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Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody today announced that DANNY LAWHORN, 30, of Hartford, has been charged by federal criminal complaint with child enticement and narcotics distribution offenses.

Lawhorn appeared today via videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. Richardson in Hartford and is detained pending a hearing that is scheduled for October 22 at 1:00 p.m.  Lawhorn has been detained in state custody since October 5 when he was arrested on related state charges.

As alleged in the complaint, Lawhorn was the coach for a basketball program that had been registered with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) from 2018 to 2020.  In the spring of 2021, the family of a minor female paid Lawhorn $700 and signed a contract for the minor to play in the program, which they believed to still be part of the AAU.  Lawhorn and his girlfriend served as the minor’s host family and allowed her to reside with them at their home in Hartford.  Other girls from the program also stayed at the house at times.

The complaint alleges that in the early morning hours of June 13, 2021, Lawhorn used his cellphone to text the minor a voice message asking her to give him a massage.  When the minor went to Lawhorn’s bedroom, he directed her to massage his groin and inner thighs with her hands and, ultimately, sexually assaulted her.  Lawhorn was arrested later that morning on related state charges for second degree sexual assault.  Prior to his arrest, law enforcement found distribution quantities of crack cocaine in his pocket.

The complaint also alleges that two other girls reported that Lawhorn had repeatedly sexually assaulted them when they played on his AAU basketball team in 2017 and 2019, respectively.  Both girls, who were under the age of 18 at the time they were sexually assaulted, reported that Lawhorn first asked for a massage before he sexually assaulting them.

It is further alleged that, on October 5, 2021, Hartford Police arrested Lawhorn on three counts of second-degree sexual assault charges for assaulting one of the girls.  At the time of his arrest, Lawhorn possessed approximately 300 wax paper sleeves containing a white powder substance that tested positive for fentanyl.

The federal complaint charges Lawhorn with enticement and attempted enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”) and fentanyl, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that a criminal complaint is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hartford Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nancy V. Gifford and Neeraj N. Patel.

Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle thanked the Hartford State’s Attorney’s Office for its cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of this case.

This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.

Individuals who believe they have been victimized by this defendant are encouraged to contact the FBI at 203-503-5593 or visit www.fbi.gov/DannyLawhorn.