An Olympic sprinter who talks to students across the country about setting high goals and living a positive life is accused of sending 259 sexual text messages to a teen at an Arizona school.
Andrew G. Reyes, 37, allegedly met the girl in January 2010 when he was invited to speak at her Mesa high school. The 15-year-old girl was on the school's track team, and Reyes is an Olympian who participated in the 2000 Sydney games and hopes to make the 2012 London games.
Reyes lives in Richland.
He pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Trial is set for Jan. 30.
Prosecutors claim that the girl's mother in late January 2010 -- less than a month after Reyes' speaking engagement at the Arizona school -- found numerous text messages from him on her daughter's cellphone.
The mother then reported it to Mesa police, who took possession of the girl's phone. Detectives reportedly discovered the text messages and explicit pictures Reyes had taken of himself, court documents said.
Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra said the text messages clearly were sexual in nature.
Reyes, a native of Gibi, Liberia, attended Red Mountain High in Mesa, Ariz., and later went to Abilene Christian University in Texas. He moved to the Tri-Cities after several visits with his mother, who lives here.
Reyes represented Liberia at the 2000 Olympics in the 4x100-meter relay in track and field. The team did not advance to the finals, but it did set a national record of 39.77 seconds for the small, west coast African nation.
In addition to training for the 2012 games and conducting fitness training seminars on speed and agility, Reyes travels around speaking to schools and organizations about dedication, discipline and avoiding negative influences in order to stay on track.
"I talk to youth and young adults about staying in school, staying away from gang violence and trying to live a positive life," Reyes told the Herald in February 2010.
"I've talked to kids to stay away from drugs, that there are other activities and role models that they can look up to to influence their life," he said.
Reyes is free on his personal recognizance while the Benton County case is pending. He is ordered to have no contact with the teen.