U.S. prosecutor says Ukrainian coach accused of molesting is a flight risk

A Ukrainian hockey coach charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia remains in custody. A hearing was postponed today and rescheduled for Jan. 27.

Ivan Pravilov, who organizes youth hockey programs up and down the East Coast, allegedly made sexual contact with a minor participating in a hockey clinic shortly after New Year’s Day in an apartment on the 6700 block of Musgrave Street, according to court documents.

The U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, charged the 48-year-old on Tuesday with taking a minor over a state line for sexual purposes.

On Jan. 2, the 14-year-old boy and a fellow teammate, also 14, who were both visiting the U.S., were driven from Wilmington, Del., to an ice rink near Elkins Park, Pa., according to court documents. Later on that day, the two were taken to Pravilov’s Philadelphia apartment. Pravilov also has a residence in Cherry Hill, N.J.

At the same apartment the following night, the victim said Pravilov knelt down beside him with his genitals exposed, according to a criminal complaint. Pravilov allegedly placed his hand on the boy’s genitals and placed the boy’s hand on his genitals.

The second minor, who was sleeping on a nearby mattress, gave an identical account of the incident, according to the complaint. The boy tried twice to interrupt the advances on his teammate. Each time, Pravilov told the teen to go back to sleep.

When Pravilov later caught wind that the first boy had spoken out about the incident, he threatened him, saying, “Should I kill you?” Pravilov then struck the minor in the neck. A mark from the incident was still visible when investigators interviewed him the following day, according to court documents.

The incident came to light after the boy told a host parent, who then contacted law-enforcement officials.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan, who is handling the case, said that her office wants to keep Pravilov in custody because they believe he could otherwise flee the country.

“We’re seeking detention on the grounds that the defendant is both a risk of flight and also obviously poses a danger to the community. These are very serious allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. He’s also a citizen of Ukraine. He’s here on a visa,” said Morgan after Friday’s court date.

Morgan said her office has “serious concerns” that Pravilov has molested other teens.

Speaking through an interpreter, Pravilov asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hey to schedule the hearing sooner, saying “my team is beheaded.”

An attorney who had represented Pravilov on Tuesday decided not to take the case. He was represented by a court-appointed lawyer on Friday. Another will be assigned to represent Pravilov next week.

On Friday afternoon, Simon Garden Apartments on Musgrave Street, the site of the alleged incident, was largely deserted.

Yvette Muhammed, a resident there, told NewsWorks that she thinks there are Ukrainians living at the three-building complex. She said she has seen a gray van with a Ukrainian license plate parked in a rear lot and one or two men, sometimes accompanied by young boys.

“They didn’t talk to nobody,” said Muhammed, who said the men lived in the building farthest from the complex’s front entrance.

If he is found guilty, Pravilov could face up to 40 years in federal prison. This is the first time Pravilov has been arrested, according to court documents.

Karl Biemuller also contributed reporting to this story.

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