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Criminal Case Against Coach Moves Forward

The criminal case against a 41-year-old Penderbrook man is heading for the grand jury. He is Bernard McHale of 12023 Golf Ridge Court in Fairfax.

Fairfax County police arrested him June 27, after a woman, now 23, accused him of sexual improprieties committed against her when she was a teen-ager and he was her soccer coach. Police charged him with one count of crimes against nature and two counts of custodial indecent liberties with a child.

Authorities say the charges stemmed from a "series of incidents" that reportedly occurred in the summer of 1997 when the alleged victim was 17. According to police, she recently told detectives that McHale "sexually assaulted her on more than one occasion. The [alleged] incidents occurred at McHale's former home on Rockaway Lane in Fairfax."

Called Bernie, McHale was a popular, charismatic coach, employed by Arlington Public Schools since 1998. He was an assistant special-education teacher and coach of girls JV and varsity soccer at Yorktown High in Arlington.

He also coached at The Potomac School, a private school in McLean, and previously coached club soccer with the DC Stoddert Soccer League in the District. He's also an Olympic Development girls coach and, in spring 2000, he was named the Washington Post's "All-Met Coach of the Year."

Police have not revealed any reason why the alleged victim decided to made these allegations against McHale now, rather than six years ago, when the incidents reportedly occurred. He was released from jail, June 30, on $15,000 bond, and appeared briefly in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Friday morning, before Judge Kimberly Daniel.

She then certified one of the charges against him to the November grand jury for possible indictment. If convicted, McHale could receive as much as five years in prison.

<tgl> — Bonnie Hobbs