By Constance-Sophie Almendares
The former owner of the Seattle Impact soccer team stood in front of a judge for an evidentiary hearing Thursday afternoon in Phoenix after being accused of two separate sexual assault counts from last year.
The 46-year-old Mesa resident, Dion Lee Earl, was arrested in October 2017 after an 18-year-old woman and an 21-year-old woman accused him for sexual assault. Both victims were found through babysitting websites for his three children.
According to court records, on Sept. 12, 2017, the 21-year-old victim was told to go into his bedroom to check on his two girls where she then found him lying on his bed completely nude.
Earl pulled the victim down onto the bed with him preventing her from escaping when he began to inappropriately touch her. The victim was able to escape Earl’s grasp by kicking him in the testicles, which he then offered her $100 to keep quiet about the situation.
The second incident happened on Oct. 22, 2017, when the 18-year-old victim was at the defendant’s residence to babysit his children. According to records, Earl embraced the victim in his bedroom which she accepted, but after a long period of time passed she asked to leave. He then fell onto his bed while still embracing her and began to fondle her.
While in court, Earl was asked about these allegations from his defense attorney Christopher Doran to which he “vehemently” denied them. During his response to the court about the accusations, the mother of one of the victims sighed while shaking her head to his reply.
“I want to make this perfectly clear,” Earl said. “I have never hit a woman, I have never pushed a woman, I have never sexually assaulted a woman. I never have and I never will.”
According to Kathleen Winn, executive director of non-profit AZMen and co-chair of the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network, Earl continuously blurred the lines of sexual boundaries.
“He continuously became a predator for young woman where he was in an employee relationship with them,” said Winn.
The evidentiary hearing for Earl’s case was to analyze the other accusations of sexual assault and misconduct throughout the years starting from 2009 up to 2017 to judge the character of the defendant.
Before starting the hearing with the accusations Earl made a statement upon his behalf which he thanked the judge, his attorney and the prosecutor for letting him speak.
“I want to let the court know that I am very thankful for letting me speak on my behalf,” Earl said. “No one has let me speak, and it’s time for me to clear the air.”
Throughout the hearing the court established that there were another seven accusations all made by separate women not including the two babysitters. According to court documents, many if not all of the sexual allegations began with a massage that Earl either requested or was given by one of the women to which he would ask if they would like a massage as well.
The first accusation was brought up in 2009 from a woman who worked at a unorthodox massage parlor which the defendant found through Backpage.com, a classified advertising website that was seized in 2004 by United States Authorities for sex trafficking. The woman who worked at the business accused him of raping her during a massage session.
According to Earl, he did know about the massage parlor’s prostitution reputation and that he went to the business on a regular basis while his wife was pregnant with his first child.
“I am not proud or happy to admit that,” said Earl through a cracking voice and wet eyes. “ I’m not proud that I brought shame to my marriage or my family.”
However, Earl did not hear about the 2009 case until 2014 when The Seattle Times included it in their article about the sexual misconduct accusations presented by members of the Impact Dance Team whom performed during intermissions of the Seattle Impact soccer team, an indoor semi-professional men’s soccer team.
The hearing concluded with Judge Mark H. Brain assessing the information and evidence provided to the court and the trial will continue on Nov. 13.
While the court was being dismissed the parents of the 18-year-old victim came forward to discuss their feelings toward Earl and his accused actions. The parents of the victim discussed how predators are everywhere and people need to be vigilantly aware.
“He is a piece of shit,” said the mother of the victim. “He should never see the light of day.”