Details have emerged on the arrest of an assistant coach who most recently worked with a traveling soccer team and was a former assistant coach with the Liberty County Recreation Department previous to his arrest on child molestation charges.
According to Liberty County Sheriff, Steve Sikes, Marvin “Major” Asa Jones, 22, was arrested and charged with child molestation on Sept. 16, following a month-long investigation by detectives from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
Sikes said his office has identified five victims over a 3-year period when Jones was an assistant soccer coach for a local travel team, confirmed by the Courier as the Hinesville Gators.
Jones has since bonded out after making a first appearance before a magistrate this week.
Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown told the Courier Tuesday that a background check was conducted on Jones in 2016, and came back clean. Brown stressed that the county does its due diligence to ensure the safety of the public. He explained that the Gators is not a Liberty County Recreation Department team, although the organization does use recreation department facilities.
According to LCRD Director Jimmy Martin, “Mr. Jones served as an assistant soccer coach at LCRD in 2016. Prior to assuming this duty he underwent a background check pursuant to our current policy. The check did not reveal any offenses. We strive to provide quality recreation programs that are fun and safe for residents of Liberty County and will continue to do so with even greater vigilance to ensure that our children are protected.”
The county’s Volunteer Investigation Policy requires that an individual, desiring to volunteer with Liberty County, submit to a criminal background investigation prior to being allowed to volunteer, county officials said. These investigations also include a driver’s license check and MVR report on any driving offenses. A copy of the policy can be found on the Courier website.
Hinesville Gator founder and Coach Tom Sukaratana said he has the same policy as the LCRD in regards to hiring coaches. He said a background check was done on Marvin Jones prior to him joining the Gators’ coaching staff.
“His background check came back clean,” Sukaratana said. Jones served as an assistant coach with the LCRD but asked to join the Hinesville Gator coaching squad, so he could coach at a competitive level and travel with the team.
Sukaratana said the minute he heard of a complaint against Jones he called all the parents together and held a meeting. He said Jones was immediately released from the Gators’ program.
“I was shocked,” Sukaratana said. “I am sick to my stomach. I formed the Hinesville Gators 36 years ago. I’ve coached kids who are now lawyers like Mark Hendrix and Carl Varnedoe, kids from all across the U.S. who are now pillars and leaders in their communities. I’ve always been overprotective of my kids. I’ve been blessed and I do all I [can] for the kids in this community. And now this happened….It was shocking.”
Patty Leon and Lewis Levine contributed to this story.