August 12, 2020
Kate Bernard
Kansas City

After the founder of a Johnson County soccer club was accused of inappropriately touching a teenage girl he coached, he pleaded guilty to a sex crime and stepped aside from running the club.

The founder’s wife is now running the club and telling players and their parents the allegations against him were lies. But the teenage girl and her mother say others need to know the truth.

Jason Cummins, 37, had coached the teen since she was 9 years old. Last year, he allegedly touched her without her consent in his Shawnee home, according to court records and an interview with the teen and her mother.

He pleaded guilty in Johnson County District Court last month to attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child between the ages of 14 and 16.

Cummins founded Arson FC in 2014. The soccer club consists of eight boys teams, 12 girls teams and two coed teams. Cummins ran the club and personally coached the team that the teen played on. The teams practice at an indoor sports facility in Lenexa and compete in the Heartland Soccer Association.

After he was charged in May, Cummins officially stepped down from running the club. The teen’s mother said Cummins’ wife stepped in to run the club in his place. Parents still with the club told her that Jason Cummins had called them, assuring parents that the teen was lying. The same message, she was told, was given to the soccer players.

“(The parents) absolutely believed he was innocent and someone was trying to set him up,” the mother said. “The families put the money together to pay for his bond. That’s how much they trust him.”

The Star generally does not name possible victims of sexual assault without their permission. The teen and her mother asked not to be identified in this story.

Cummins and his wife, Angie Cummins, did not immediately respond to The Star’s request for comment.

According to charging documents, Cummins had asked permission to take the teen out to lunch after the two argued at a November practice.

Rather than go to a restaurant close to her home, the teen said, Cummins took her to a Panera 10 to 15 minutes away. He said he didn’t want anyone to see them together.

Leaving the restaurant, Cummins commented on the appearance of her rear end, she said. When they got in the car he asked if she wanted to see his house.

“I kind of kept saying I don’t know and he said OK I’ll take you there,” the teen said. “I had a sweatshirt on and he made me put my hood on to go into his house so his neighbors wouldn’t see.”

After giving her a tour of the house, the teen said, Cummins walked her to the front door. He gave her a lingering hug. He rubbed her back. He asked if he could touch her rear end. She didn’t respond, so he did. Then, she said, he asked if he could put his hands under her pants. She immediately said no.

Then, she said, he walked to his couch and made her sit on his lap. When she tried to stand up, he held onto her, she said.

When he brought her home, the teen said, Cummins told her he would “do what boys do” when he got back to his house.

Later that afternoon, he began texting her apologies. In the following months, she said, he bought her expensive gifts for Christmas and her birthday.

His behavior wasn’t entirely surprising to the teen. He had never touched her before, but he had been acting inappropriately for years, she said.

The teen was the only player on Cummins’ team whom he had coached before starting Arson FC.

When she was in eighth or ninth grade, she said, Cummins started flirting with her. He commented on her appearance, sent her texts with screenshots of Kansas’ age of consent, and suggested that she could live with him and coach soccer once she turned 18.

About two years ago, her mother said, the teen’s doctor had told her she was concerned Cummins was grooming her, a term to describe potential abusers conditioning a victim to accept inappropriate treatment. For children, it often involves giving gifts, compliments and attention so that they are flattered, rather than alarmed, by sexual advances.

The teen’s mother said she was initially worried but after talking to her ex-husband they brushed off the doctor’s suggestion. It didn’t line up with what they knew of the coach, who had been in their daughter’s life so long he was almost part of the family.

After the November incident, it took the teen several months to tell anyone about what happened at Cummins’ home.

“I felt guilty and didn’t want to ruin his life,” the teen said.

Finally, when she was struggling to focus on her high school soccer team, she told her sister and parents. She broke down and almost quit playing soccer altogether.

“I think she’d had so much time having it in her head thinking about it that when it finally came out it was hard for her to stop crying,” her mother said.

The teen’s mother said she was initially in shock. The more she spoke to her daughter, the more she learned of the lies Cummins had told them, she said.

At the same time he was suggesting to the teen that she could live with him when she turned 18 and help coach for the club, he was telling her mother that he was coordinating with college coaches so the teen could continue playing soccer.

By speaking with the teen’s mother he would learn things that he would later use so that the teen would think he knew and understood her, the mother said.

“How could he do this?” the mother said. “In two weeks I found out almost everything he told me at one point or another was a lie or he was telling (my daughter) the opposite of what he was telling me.”

By the time court hearings had begun, Angie Cummins was telling parents that the teen had lied, the mother said she was told. She said the team had nothing to worry about.

Former teammates and friends were asking the teen why she was lying.

After pleading guilty, Cummins registered as a sex offender. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Cummins’ attorney, Scott Toth, said the charge Cummins pleaded guilty to “more accurately reflects the situation.”

“The true evidence in the case reflected poor judgment on Mr. Cummins’ part that put that girl in a vulnerable position, but thankfully nothing of serious consequence occurred,” Toth told The Star.

“Jason accepted responsibility quickly and decisively, and that indicates that he is remorseful and wants to move on with his life.”

The teen and her mother, however, don’t believe Cummins accepted responsibility for his actions. They believe he and his wife lied to club parents and players. He pleaded guilty to a lower charge of attempted aggravated liberties even though the teen said he didn’t just try to touch her, he succeeded.

As long as his wife is running the soccer club, the mom said, Cummins is benefiting from it.

The mother says she wants to ensure parents are aware of what Cummins did. Justice, she said, would be for the soccer club to close and for Cummins to stop “profiting off kids.”

“If my daughter’s brave enough to come out and tell us and basically turn away from something that’s been in her life for seven to eight years, I didn’t want it to go unnoticed or unmentioned that he did plead guilty to something,” she said.

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