Survivor’s Story: Former Presentation Student Accuses Coach of Sexual Abuse

NBC Bay Area

March 29, 2018

By Vicky Nguyen, Michael Bott, and Mark Villarreal

Grace Leonis speaks out for the first time, accusing her JV water polo coach of sexually abusing her when she was a freshman. Friends say they reported sexting and an inappropriate relationship to the school, but police were never notified

Grace Leonis arrived as a freshman at San Jose’s Presentation High School feeling like a fish out of water. A standout swimmer, her prowess in the pool got her to the Catholic school for girls, where tuition runs $20,000 a year.

Leonis joined the water polo team but still struggled to make friends and says she often felt dejected and alone. She says she turned to her junior varsity water polo coach Jenna Roe for support. Leonis, who first met Roe at a water polo camp in August 2013, right before school started, says Roe lavished attention on her.

“I’ve never gotten attention like that before from anybody,” Leonis, now 18, said in a recent interview at her parents’ home in San Jose. “I liked it. I wanted to be around her.”

The two began texting each other. Leonis said she confessed to Roe, 24, that she had a crush on her.

“She told me she felt the same way, and at first, I was like, ‘That’s not right,’” Leonis said.

Leonis, who had just turned 14, said she felt conflicted about her coach’s response.

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