Swim Coach John Casillas Arrested after Missing Teen Found in His Bedroom

Courtesy: San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department

A swim instructor in Apple Valley, California has been arrested after a missing 16-year old girl was found hiding in his bedroom, officials said.

The teen has been missing since July 22, 2020. Authorities discovered that she had been communicating with her former swim coach John Casillas, and on August 6th, detectives served a search warrant at his home in San Bernardino.

While police did not identify the teen, her father, Ismael Meza, has identified her as Lexis Meza to local media.

There, she was found hiding in his bedroom at the house where John Casillas’ 62-year old father Alfonso Casillas also lived.

“At the same time, detectives contacted and detained John at a local country club where he taught swim lessons. John and Alfonso were transported to Sheriff’s Headquarters for further investigation,” a release from Apple Valley police said. “Apple Valley and Crimes Against Children Detectives determined that John was aware of the victim’s age and the ongoing search for her. Additionally, Alfonso knew the victim was a juvenile and did not alert law enforcement.”

John Casillas was arrested and booked at West Valley Detention Center on charges of Concealment of a Child from Legal Guardian/Parent. Bail was set at $50,000. He posted bail the day after his arrest and was released from custody. In California, child abduction can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If tried as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to four years in prison.

The Sheriff’s Department says that an investigation would also be submitted regarding criminal charges against John’s father Alfonso Casillas, who they say “knew the victim was a juvenile and did not alert law enforcement.”

Casillas was the coach of the teen found in his bedroom for “a little bit over a year” at the Desert Aquatics swim club, according to her father. The Sheriff’s Department says that he is employed as a swim instructor at “several different swimming academies,” but did not name those places.

Meza is still a member of Desert Aquatics, which is a USA Swimming club. Casillas has not yet been added to the sanctions database by the US Center for Safe Sport.

As recently as October 29, 2019, a now-deleted post on the Desert Aquatics Facebook page identified Casillas as the club’s head coach.


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GA Boy
1 month ago

Wow! Was not expecting to open up SwimSwam to this headline😳

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  GA Boy
1 month ago

Yeah, it’s been a while. No reports of underage sexual assault or, for that matter, mass shootings.

Brian M
1 month ago

“Bail was set at $50,000 and he posted bail and was released from custody”. It is completely unacceptable for this guy to be walking the streets. For those of you that are not familiar with the way things like this typically go in the southwestern portion of the US, I have good money that this dude will be in Mexico shortly (if he is not already.)

GA Boy
Reply to  Brian M
1 month ago

You, like all of us, don’t know the facts of the case. Only snippets. But reading between the lines, one can infer that there is a large possibility that the kid wasn’t held captive but being harbored. Still wrong and against the law, but not dangerous. Let’s what before we pass judgement, low bails are not set in cases where there are captives or possible sexual misconduct.

Reply to  GA Boy
1 month ago

Agreed. She sounds like a runaway.

Reply to  AfterShock
27 days ago

An underage runaway with an adult male swim coach who knew she was missing but decided to hide her in his bedroom instead and lie to authorities. Shes the child he’s the adult. Its not the first time we hear of a coach manipulate or take advantage of young naive girls. But lets not pass judgment?!? I’m sure his intentions were strictly bible studies! Shame on you for blaming the victim!

Where is SafeSport?
1 month ago

Another USA Swimming Team not Safe Sport Recognized. When is USA Swimming going to take Safe Sport seriously? If USA Swimming had a mandate that each USA Swimming Club becomes Safe Sport Recognized, not only would everyone be educated, but the “see something, say something method” could have helped prevented something like this happening. The LSC is just as responsible as well for not getting all of their clubs SAfe Sport Recognized.

Reply to  Where is SafeSport?
1 month ago

I don’t think it is fair or reasonable to say USA Swimming isn’t taking Safe Sport seriously. USA swimming has been extremely proactive in pushing Safe Sport. Also, I can tell you many teams are taking it very seriously as it looks like all teams may be required to be Safe Sport certified in the near future (which is awesome.) Yes the LSC is there to support teams in getting certified, but keep in mind, to get the Safe Sport certification, “X” amount of team members, currently registered with that team, need to take certain courses or get certified to meet criteria for SS certification. That’s not exactly easy to do right now with things being lockdown. Also, many families… Read more »

Reply to  Adam
1 month ago

The only thing that USA Swim takes seriously, is spending millions of dollars in attorneys fees, to cover up abuse, Annihilate abuse victims, and do the bare minimum to call it SafeSport. They’re proactive in protecting coaches with a long legacy of abuse (this encompasses al types of abuse). All the club SafeSport recognition crap is another way for them to pass the buck.. they can say- well we offered these trainings, and XYZ club didn’t get certified.. so it’s the club’s fault.
Just like the email that came out yesterday from USAS.. coaching boys to men, and teaching girls to be peer supporters. Pass the buck, pass the buck..

Reply to  Where is SafeSport?
1 month ago

The SafeSport certification mandate for clubs is inevitable. That being said, I doubt the course would have dissuaded the coach from doing this

Reply to  Where is SafeSport?
1 month ago

Do we ever just blame the bad guy anymore? As coaches don’t we preach personal responsibility?

Reply to  Coachy
1 month ago

While the bad guy should be blamed that still doesn’t help with preventing swimmers coming into contact with the bad guys.

Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

And what does? Please let us know what will finally put an end to child abuse in the world. Evil exists in the world. Teach your children the signs and how to avoid these possible situations.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Where is SafeSport?
1 month ago

Papa Don’t Preach

Reply to  Where is SafeSport?
1 month ago

Safe Sport is NOT the answer. It is an everywhere problem and USA Swimming does NOT have the solution. They have a program in place in an effort to prevent them from being responsible for the person’s wrongdoing. It is that simple. When are people going to learn that it is a marketing tool to make people feel better about themselves and the sport. We should be bothered that this continues to happen, but programs like Safe Sport are not some magical sorting hat.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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