Retired Coronado coach: Student's sex assault claims are made up

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - For the first time, a local coaching legend is speaking out, 5 months after he was banned from the campus of Coronado High.

Retired water polo coach Randy Burgess is accused in a complaint of molesting a former middle school student.

A mural of Burgess remains over the pool his water polo teams has used during his 3 decades of coaching, which includes nearly 20 section championships for high school boys' and girls' teams. 

Three of his players have competed in the Olympics.

It's a legacy now in danger.

"My feeling is beyond frustration. A lot of hurtful things have happened," said Burgess.

In May, the former middle school student - now 18 - filed a complaint with Coronado unified.

In it, the teen claims during the 7th grade while playing for a club polo team that shared the pool with Burgess' teams, Burgess hugged, kissed, and eventually raped the child, in places like bathrooms and Burgess' car.

The school district removed Burgess from the classroom in April, before denying the claim in May.

Burgess says his attorney learned the District Attorney's office has declined to prosecute, but 10News is still working to confirm that.

"My immediate response was this was a case of mistaken identity.  My coaching and teaching career never paralleled with this this individual," said Burgess, who denies ever interacting with the student.

Burgess tell us he doesn't know why someone would make up such a claim. He's now suing for reinstatement to teach physical education at Coronado High. In 2015, he retired from coaching, but was still mentoring coaches.

"I've told my children and my athletes: It's not always what happens to you, but how you handle it. I'm trying to live through those words now," said Burgess.

It's not the first time Burgess has been named in a complaint.

In 1995, a city supervisor sued him and the city of Coronado, claiming Burgess berated his players, made sexually inappropriate statements in front of students and sometimes allowed male swimmers to swim naked.

Burgess says that case was settled with a confidentiality clause.

"I can only repeat to myself that the people who know me, know me, and the others will come up with their own conclusions," said Burgess.

In a statement, Coronado Unified declined to discuss personnel matters, but did say "...the District takes such claims very seriously.  When the allegations became known, the District followed policy and protocol by taking immediate action to protect the safety and security of District students and staff ..."

10News reached out to the lawyers representing the former student but have yet to hear back.

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