From Coach to Predator: The Story of David Odom

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Eleven years after he was first investigated for an “inappropriate relationship” with a minor, a Stanislaus County volunteer coach has been arrested on multiple felony charges for sex acts with a minor after he was discovered in a parked car with a girl who “looked young.”

David Odom, who volunteered as a coach two high schools and a local church, was well-known to adults for his inappropriate behavior with minor girls, including holding the hands of former students in public.

Other witnesses told investigators that Odom was fired from a position at Hughson High School due to repeated inappropriate relationships.

According to Fox 40 News:

Odom was terminated from that position after being seen holding hands with a former female student, according to Superintendent Brenda Smith.

“David Odom… was fired after staff observed him holding hands with a former female student who was 18 years old at the time,” according to a statement from Smith. “The current charges are related to his work in Waterford and alleged inappropriate relationship with an underage girl there in 2013.”

There is no known report that Hughson High School or Hughson Unified School District officials notified law enforcement or parents about Odom when he was fired, although they had reason to suspect abuse.

Former students are upset about the lack of action by school and district officials. According to Fox 40:

Another student that was mentored by Odom while he was working as volunteer coach, Keadan Lara, said it is a “relief that something is finally being done about it.”

Odom worked at schools and churches throughout Stanislaus County, which includes Merced, Turlock, and the rural communities of Waterford, Hughson, and Hickson. Odom also worked at Waterford High School and Waterford Community Bible Church.

Parents believe that there are other survivors who are too scared or intimidated to come forward and report Odom’s crimes. From Fox 40:

Lara’s mother said she knew most of the young women who are said to have been victimized by Odom.

“It’s not acceptable… I knew these young women that were possibly involved and who didn’t want to come forward. And that breaks my heart,” Kimberly Lara said. “No young woman should ever have to go through that.”

Unfortunately, abuse by a teacher, coach, or school employee or volunteer is not rare. It very often stops with one victim. It’s important survivors know they are not alone. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse by David Odom – or have seen or suspected abuse, it is safe to come forward and report what you know. The best and most effective way to keep children safer from abuse is when survivors are empowered to come forward, report, and get justice and accountability – from both the perpetrator and school district who chose to turn a blind eye to suspected abuse.