Coach at Canfield placed on leave after accusation
By JUSTIN DENNIS
A man who pleaded not guilty last week to having sex with a minor while a student is Canfield Local School District’s head cross country coach.
Dominic M. Haniford, 21, of Chapel Lane, faces one first-degree misdemeanor count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for an alleged offense that occurred in May 2015, according to court records.
The district last month placed Haniford on leave pending a Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office investigation into an accusation that he had a sexual relationship with a 14- or 15-year-old freshman while he was an 18-year-old senior at Canfield High School.
Administrators learned of the accusation Sept. 12, according to a release from the district. It is unclear when Haniford was placed on leave. Haniford also was barred from school grounds and events and from having contact with students, according to district spokeswoman Renee English.
He remains on leave, according to a Monday statement from the district.
“We are fully cooperating with local authorities and will assist in the investigation if called upon,” Superintendent Alex Geordan said in statement. “I assure you that the Canfield Local School District administration acted quickly and decisively to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. That is, and will always be our primary concern.”
Mahoning County Sheriff’s Detective Patrick Mondora said Monday that Haniford’s accuser, now an adult, reported the sexual misconduct because she believed Haniford became a district coach during their relationship – but detectives learned that wasn’t the case after subpoenaing district employment records.
Mondora said the woman told police she reached out to adult relatives and school district officials about the illicit relationship, but “no one did anything about it.”
The age of consent in Ohio is 16.
Haniford is a part-time, limited-contract district employee. Canfield Board of Education meeting minutes from Aug. 15 confirm Haniford was paid about $4,000 to be the district’s head cross country coach for the 2018-19 school year.
Haniford entered his plea Friday morning in the county area court in Canfield and was released on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond. He is set for a pretrial hearing Oct. 23 in the Canfield court.