Greenwood tennis coach accused of sexual misconduct

Don Kawamoto
Published: .
Updated: .

Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Greenwood - A south side tennis coach is accused of sexual misconduct after police say he fondled a student.

Greenwood High School fired 53-year-old Don Kawamoto, who now faces felony charges.
Investigators say Kawamoto used his position of trust and authority at school to violate a teenage girl.

"You just don't know in this society who to trust and who not to trust," said Greenwood Police Chief Joe Pitcher.

Kawamoto was the Greenwood High School boys tennis coach. Over the past few years, he also coached at Greenwood Middle School and headed up the girls tennis team at Southport High School.

But it's during a private lesson on New Year's Day when police say Kawamoto went from coaching to committing a crime. At Greenwood's indoor courts, investigators say, he fondled a 15-year-old girl from another high school.

Kawamoto first told police he was improving her swing and touched her accidentally. But during interrogation, he later admitted to doing it for sexual gratification.

"In the first incident, he had a hold of her right arm and he takes his left hand and goes down the front of her top between her sports bra and her breast. Obviously that was a problem," Pitcher said.

The problem happened again the very next day.

This time, according to detectives, Kawamoto reached under the teen's shirt, then asked to see her chest.

"She objected to it and he basically called her a cry baby," Pitcher said.

Detectives say he also told her not to tell anyone what happened because it would ruin his career and reputation.

The girl's family did call police, who arrested Kawamoto Wednesday.

Kawamoto coached well beyond Greenwood.  In fact, he gave private lessons to students from several area schools, and even coached athletes across the state. He admitted to detectives that he sometimes touched teens, by positioning them during lessons, to get sexually aroused. Now police are concerned there may be more victims.

"So we want the word out that if anyone else has had this type of situation to let us know and we'll investigate that also," Pitcher said.

Greenwood school leaders didn't want to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. But they did tell Eyewitness News that Kawamoto has been fired as coach of the boys tennis team.

Kawamoto bonded out of jail Wednesday night.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Greenwood Police Investigations at 317-887-5619.