Editor's Note: An incorrect photo briefly appeared with this article on April 10. It was immediately removed and replaced with the current correct photo.
AKRON — St. Vincent-St. Mary High School wrestling coach Harry Lester has been placed on unpaid administrative leave after the school learned of allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student last year, the school’s president announced in an email to parents Tuesday night.
School President Thomas M. Carone said Lester was placed on unpaid administrative leave Monday.
“As you can imagine, we were shocked that something like this could happen at our school to one of our students. We are fiercely dedicated to the safety of each and every one of our students at St. Vincent-St. Mary. That is our number one priority every day,” Carone wrote in the email.
Akron police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards said in an email that authorities "are investigating an inappropriate relationship between the wrestling coach at St. V and a former student. I don't have anything further as it is under investigation.”
According to Carone’s email, the student has since graduated from the high school.
“We pray for our graduate and offer our prayers to the graduate’s family, and I hope you will keep them in your prayers as well. We are deeply sorry that they must endure this emotional stress,” Carone wrote in the email.
According to Carone’s email, a police report has been filed, and anyone with information relevant to the police investigation is asked to call Detective Gary Shadie at 330-620-4927. The school is also launching its own internal investigation to review the three years Lester was employed at the school.
Carone said in the email school staff members undergo state and federal background checks and must also complete VIRTUS training, instruction by certified facilitators on the prevention of child sexual abuse, when they’re hired. They’re required to continue that training throughout their employment at the school.
“... We expect and demand high moral and ethical standards of our faculty and staff. We do not tolerate behavior deviating from those high standards,” Carone wrote.
Lester won four state wrestling titles at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy before graduating in 2001 and going on to wrestle at Northern Michigan University. A 2012 Olympian and two-time World bronze medalist, Lester was selected to the U.S. World team eight times and won six U.S. Open championships, plus a championship in the 2007 Pan American Games.
He was introduced as St. V-M wrestling coach on April 14, 2016. He replaced interim coach Mark Skonieczny, who took over for Anthony Gary in the middle of the 2015 season upon Gary’s dismissal.