Arizona Coach Bob Chen Committed Suicide Days After Arrest in Child Prostitution Sting

Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

Arizona Coach Bob Chen Committed Suicide Days After Arrest in Child Prostitution Sting

Since former Chandler High School and Rio Salado Swim Club coach Bob Chen died Sunday, more details have emerged about his situation. According to a new report from the East Valley Tribune, Chen committed suicide just two days after he was arrested in a child prostitution sting.

Per the report, Chen had arranged to meet with a 17-year-old girl but left prior to any encounter, but the app he used had been a sting and he was arrested by police shortly after departing. Chen was then kept in jail overnight, assigned a parole officer and was restricted with a curfew and ankle monitor before he contacted Rio Salado Swim Club development team directo Patrick Tolson. The Tribune spoke with Rio Salado Swim Club owner and director David Tait, who said that Chen admitted soliciting prostitutes in the past but insisted he had no previous instance had involved anyone underage.

Still, Tait said that the club was planning to investigate the matter and had intended to contact Safe Sport authorities Monday. They sought to make sure that Chen had not harmed any swimmers with the club or in any other aspect of his life.

Meanwhile, after Chen returned home Saturday, several other coaches and his parents believed he was suicidal, so they removed his gun and car keys to prevent him from harming himself, but Chen used a spare key to drive to a gun range, where he rented a gun that he used to shoot himself.

That left the entire swimming community around Chandler High School and Rio Salado Swim Club in a state of complete shock, with their coach’s death combined with the serious nature of his arrest and the lingering potential of other undisclosed crimes.

“I sent an email Sunday night explaining Bob had committed suicide. We didn’t release these other details because we wanted the parents to be able to talk to their kids before they went to school,” Tait said, according to the Tribune. “On Monday we lined up trained therapists and then Tuesday we had a meeting with parents where shared the details openly, honestly and transparently so everybody could take the information and share it with their children in the best way they know how.”

Chen had recently announced he was departing Arizona for a job at Santa Clara Swim Club. He had been at Chandler High School for four years, three as an assistant and then one as head coach after longtime lead man Kerry Croswhite passed away following a battle with COVID-19. Chen also coached two athletes to Olympic Trials this year in his role at Rio Salado.

Read the full report from the East Valley Tribune here.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Katherine Simpson

    The swim world in Arizona is corrupt. Parents leave their children open to the worst. Do not kid yourself.

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