FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Coral Springs Middle School student who says his coach sexually assaulted him in 2017 took the stand in the trial of the former employee.
Opening statements got underway in the trial of Robert Grant at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s easy to say, ‘This kid, this is what he said, so it must be true,'” said Jim Lewis, Grant’s attorney. “‘It’s such a horrible accusation. Why in the world would he say it if it wasn’t true?'”
Prosecutors said Grant, a custodian and assistant coach at the school, became a mentor to the then 15-year-old boy.
“He became a role model, a big brother,” said prosecutor Erika Hernandez.
The teen said Grant, who was 27 at the time, helped him with school work and conditioned him for sports.
“I would say he’d push and support me, and I would say a father figure, kind of,” he said.
But prosecutors said Grant took advantage of the teen beginning in the summer of 2017.
The teen said he remembers the molestation began in the parking lot of a post office.
“We were in the parking lot for a couple of minutes. We were both on our phones, and at that moment, he reached over with two hands and reached inside my pants, through the waistband, and then touched my testicles for a couple of seconds and pulled his hands out,” he said.
The 17-year-old said it began with Grant applying a Tiger Balm on his groin area to treat a track injury.
“As he put [the balm] on my penis, he put it to my knee areas, he was in between my legs, his hands were already there, so he was massaging my penis,” he said.
The alleged victim said Grant groped him at least 10 times.
In October of 2017, the teen said, Grant took him to the school gym, began stretching him and then performed oral sex on him.
But Grant’s attorney, Jim Lewis, suggested the teen could have fabricated the allegations as a way of lashing out at his coach.
“The victim in this case is a troubled young man, that he has some issues in terms of that, believe it or not,” said Lewis, “that Robert was spending too much time training with the other kids, and that he wasn’t maybe getting the attention that he thought that he should have gotten from Robert, and somehow maybe that jealousy turned into an anger.”
Grant rejected a plea deal that involved a 15-year prison sentence. If convicted, he stands to face life behind bars.
The teen finished testifying just before 5 p.m. The trial is scheduled to resume at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
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