SALEM — A Superior Court judge is considering a request by the district attorney to hold a Marblehead hockey coach accused of child molestation without bail.
Judge Timothy Feeley said he will decide soon whether Christopher Prew remains behind bars until trial. Until then, the judge ordered the 31-year-old coach back to jail.
The judge heard the arguments from a prosecutor and a defense lawyer as dozens of Prew’s supporters sat on one side of the courtroom and a dozen family members of the alleged victims sat on the other.
Prew faces charges of indecent assault and battery on boys he coached in Essex and Middlesex counties. He has pleaded not guilty.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall argued Prew should be held without bail under the state’s dangerousness law. The statue allows the court to keep defendants who pose a danger to the community in jail.
“I understand the defendant does not have a criminal record,” she said. “But the nature of his offenses include not only children who he groomed to trust him, but this defendant appears to be more of an opportunistic offender. The defendant’s entire world was orchestrated to get access to these kids.”
In one case, she said, Prew was playing a video game with an alleged victim when he sexually assaulted him.
Prew was arrested by Marblehead Police in February and arraigned in Lynn District Court after a third-grader told his mother Prew touched his private parts and made him touch Prew’s penis. The mother, who had dated Prew, told police of her son’s disclosure, which initiated an investigation, authorities said.
“There has been some suggestion this is some kind of witch hunt or conspiracy by one mother against the defendant over a failed romantic relationship,” MacDougall said. “That is simply not supported by the evidence.”
The DA alleges the assaults took place in Prew’s condominium, and in the children’s own home, often with parents in another room.
So far, she said 10 families have come forward to say their child had been molested by Prew.
McDougall said Prew used hockey to get close to the victims.
“With all due respect to his family who love and adore him, and his many supporters, evidence the commonwealth has shows a very different side to the defendant,” she said. “We do not believe there are any release conditions that will protect any children from this defendant given what we know.”
The judge asked MacDougall whether there were any molestation charges from families in Winthrop, Prew’s hometown. She said no.
Prew’s lawyer, Michael P. Doolin, said his client denies all the accusations.
But the judge interrupted.
“Every defendant who has ever appeared in this court charged with sexaul abuse of children deny the allegations,” Feeley said.
Doolin said his client does not have a criminal record and recommended he allowed to live under house arrest in his parents’ Winthrop home.
“These are serious allegations, but at this point they are only allegations,” he said.
He told the judge 20 supporters wrote letters to the court on Prew’s behalf.
Doolin declined to provide the recommendations to The Item.
The children who have leveled accusations against Prew participated in the hockey program with him. He is not affiliated with the Marblehead Hockey Association, but provides private and group hockey sessions in the area.