Former Duluth coach admits touching, but says it wasn't sexual

Jurors in the Wendell Greene sexual assault trial on Monday heard an audiotape of Greene admitting he had inappropriately touched a 10-year-old girl, saying it happened as he was examining a skin rash and wasn't in a sexual nature.

Wendell Greene
Greene was found guilty by a jury Sept. 18, 2013, of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Jurors in the Wendell Greene sexual assault trial on Monday heard an audiotape of Greene admitting he had inappropriately touched a 10-year-old girl, saying it happened as he was examining a skin rash and wasn't in a sexual nature.

The prosecution plans to wrap up its side of the case Tuesday against Greene, 37, a former Duluth basketball coach accused of having sexual contact with two pre-teen sisters.

Greene, of Duluth, a former U.S. Marine and former member of the 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard, is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, including penetration, and three counts of second-degree sexual conduct. If convicted, sentencing guidelines would call for Greene to receive a 12-year prison sentence.

On Monday in the Duluth courthouse jurors saw videotape of an interview between a Duluth police investigator and the 10-year-old alleged victim in which she pointed out where and how Greene touched her.

Jurors also listened to a more than two-hour interview between Greene and Andrew Fena, a St. Louis County social services investigator, during which Greene explained his version of the events when he is accused of having sexual contact.


In the taped interview conducted one day after police interviewed Greene, he told Fena that the only contact he had with the younger sister was drying her off after a bath at his apartment during a weekend she was staying with him. And he said the contact with the older girl was to check her for a skin ailment that had been causing spots to develop on her body.

Greene said he had stopped at his apartment with the girl on the way from Dairy Queen to a playground so she could use the bathroom and so he could find a pair of basketball shorts. But, in the taped interview, Greene said he took the girl's clothes off in his bedroom to see if the spots had spread. He admitted holding her legs apart and touching her across most of her body, including possibly outside her vagina area, he said. He told the interviewer that he stopped when he heard the girl make a shrieking noise that made him realize she was uncomfortable.

Greene told the interviewer that he knew at that point he had done something "wrong and inappropriate" so he stopped examining the girl and they both left the apartment to go to the playground.

He said he apologized to the girl at that time.

"I admit that I'm guilty of taking her clothes off and touching her," Greene said during the taped interview. "I didn't intend it to be a sexual thing."

During the taped interview Greene said he was a native of Albany, Ga., had been wounded in combat as a Marine in 2003 and had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He said he moved to Duluth in 2007 to work with the Minnesota Air National Guard and began coaching, refereeing and supervising youth sports here in 2008.

The trial began last week in front of State District Court Judge Mark Munger in Duluth.

Last week both girls testified in the case as did the mother of the victims, describing the close relationship Greene had forged with her children, both as a coach at the Duluth Salvation Army and later as a personal care assistant helping out in her home. The mother said she had viewed Greene as "a good role model" for her children until the allegations of sexual conduct came to light.


Both sides describe Greene's relationship as "like an uncle" to the girls.

Greene's defense attorney, Thomas Skare, is expected to begin his defense today. In previous interviews, he voiced concerns that the alleged victims' testimonies may have been tainted or distorted during repeated interviews, counseling and therapy.

In addition to the charges Greene is now facing on trial, he also awaits a second trial on separate charges of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 14-year-old girl. That case will focus on Greene's relationship with another girl he formerly coached and events that allegedly occurred in the spring of 2010.

Related Topics: CRIME
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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