City official accused of fondling student

May 13, 2009 2:47:42 PM PDT
A two-term Colleyville City Council member and longtime youth coach has been accused of pinning down and fondling a foreign exchange student living at his home. Tony Licata, 57, resigned his seat the same day he was arrested last week. He was booked on suspicion of unlawful restraint, posted $2,500 bail and was released later on May 7, according to Tarrant County Jail.

Alan Levy, a Tarrant County prosecutor, said the charge against Licata may change after the case is presented to a grand jury.

Licata's attorney Stephanie Luce said he is "a good and decent man" but said she would not comment further until her office investigates the allegations, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Wednesday editions.

American Field Service, which arranged for Licata to host the girl, received an emergency report about an incident one night in November and moved her from Licata's upscale home in the Fort Worth suburb. But the agency did not contact police.

Authorities were alerted in April by the girl's therapist, according to the arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the newspaper.

Marlene Baker, AFS-USA spokeswoman, said she could not discuss specifics of the case but that students' safety and security is the organization's first priority. Based on information at the time, "we followed protocol ... (that) included moving the student, notifying the student's parents, notifying the (U.S.) State Department and offering counseling to the student," Baker said.

On that November night, Licata called the girl into his bedroom to show her a cell phone, and they sat on the bed reading the instruction book. But when she started to get up, Licata grabbed her and began touching her inappropriately, according to the affidavit.

The girl struggled and Licata threw her on the bed, allegedly pinning her and kissing her neck and shoulders. She broke free, crying, and Licata apologized before letting her leave, according to the document.

The girl went to the home of a friend, who called AFS. The agency moved her to another city on an emergency placement, and later moved her to another host family.

After she told her therapist, the girl and her friend who translated for her met at a high school with an investigator for the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office. The girl said she would call Licata's cell phone while the conversation was recorded.

According to the affidavit, during that phone call Licata apologized about the incident several times and said he had told his wife and a counselor. He also said that AFS had told him not to contact her but that he was concerned about her and "wanted to visit with her further and would talk to his wife to see how that would best be accomplished," according to the document.

Licata, who runs a management consulting firm, was elected to the City Council in 2005 and re-elected to a three-year term in 2007. He was a youth sports coach from 1987-99, heading soccer, baseball and wrestling teams. He is also a community volunteer.

Colleyville Councilman Mike Taylor said Licata had asked that his resignation be kept quiet until he was ready to announce it. Taylor said he had not heard of the allegations against Licata, who had cited personal reasons for stepping down.

"Mr. Licata was an excellent council member, and we're going to miss him," Taylor said. "He did a very good job for the citizens."

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