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Monday, September 26, 2022

UC Davis assistant water polo coach arrested by FBI, indicted by grand jury 

Daniel Noble was charged with the “distribution of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office

 

By KAYA DO-KHANH — campus@theaggie.org

 

Content Warning: This article contains discussions of sexual misconduct and abuse which some readers may find disturbing.

 

On May 19, the assistant coach for the UC Davis men’s water polo team, Daniel Noble, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for charges related to possession of child pornography, according to a charge letter on the investigation into allegations against Noble. 

As of May 20, Noble ceased to be a UC Davis employee, according to a statement from Chancellor Gary May regarding the situation. The statement goes on to say that Noble has been ordered to stay away from campus and will be arrested if he returns. 

According to a June 2 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Noble was part of a Kik Messenger group that exchanged videos and images that displayed the sexual abuse of children. The release states that Noble shared videos of children being sexually abused to the group multiple times throughout 2022. 

A federal grand jury returned an indictment on June 2, charging Noble with “distribution of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” according to the news release. 

“Noble has been released on a $100,000 bond, with special conditions including no-contact with minors and home confinement with electronic location monitoring,” the news release reads. “If convicted, Noble faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to a lifetime of supervised release.”

The university also launched an investigation into Noble’s activities on May 20, which, according to an investigation report to UC Davis from June, was conducted by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen London and her law firm, London & Stout P.C. The investigation focused on determining if Noble had violated any university policies and if there were any potential victims in the UC Davis community. London and her team worked with law enforcement to gather evidence, interviewing 17 witnesses and reviewing over 10,000 documents, such as end-of-season surveys completed by members of the men’s water polo team and emails sent to and from Noble’s UC Davis email account.

The findings from the report state that there was no evidence found that demonstrates Noble engaged in conduct violating the University’s Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy (SVSH) in his coaching activities. There was also no evidence of potential victims of the type of conduct described by his charges within the UC Davis community.

In the course of the investigation, however, according to the report, there was some evidence found that Noble may have been engaged in conduct that could constitute an improper governmental activity (IGA) as defined in the University’s Whistleblower Policy. Noble was overpaid approximately $10,000 as a result of an administrative error, and a witness disclosed that he was aware of the overpayment but did not report the error. The university later recognized the error and ordered Noble to return the overpaid amount of money, to which he agreed. 

The money has since been fully returned, and while there is some question as to whether Noble’s initial conduct in the situation would constitute an IGA, the university’s action in correcting the situation was the appropriate action, according to the report.  

The report goes on to state that there was no evidence of another IGA found.

“That evidence demonstrates that Noble kept any alleged activity involving [Child Sexual Abuse Material] separate from his professional life at UC Davis,” the report states. “With the potential exception of the overpayment issue identified in this report, we found no evidence of conduct by Noble in connection with his coaching that violates the relevant policies.” 

UC Davis Athletic Director Rocko DeLuca was contacted on Aug. 2 and had not responded as of Aug. 10. UC Davis Men’s Water Polo Coach Daniel Leyson responded to request for comment with a link to the investigation report.

 

Written by: Kaya Do-Khanh — campus@theaggie.org