Volleyball coach accused of sexual assault pleads not guilty

By Kelly Wheeler

City News Service

A volleyball coach accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl while serving as an instructor at a summer volleyball camp at the University of San Diego pleaded not guilty Friday to a pair of felony sex-crime charges.

Xia Wei Li, 29, of Pacific Beach, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of two counts of committing a lewd act on a child under 14, said Deputy District Attorney Dan Link.

The girl, who lives in San Bernardino, told her parents last week about the alleged assault, which she said occurred last month in a secluded outdoor area at the USD campus, according to San Diego police Lt. Rick O’Hanlon.

Li, who was arrested Wednesday, coached for Epic Volleyball in Poway from 2006 through 2008, and Coast Volleyball in San Diego from 2008 to this year, O’Hanlon said.

Li had been scheduled to resume his post as junior varsity girls’ volleyball coach at La Jolla Country Day School this fall.

“He was a volleyball coach for a couple different organizations, and as a volleyball coach, obviously, he has a heightened responsibility to his players,” Link said outside court. “And we’re taking this case very seriously for that reason.”

Judge David Szumowski set bail at $300,000, although Li is being held without bail on an immigration hold.

Link said the investigation into Li is continuing. Anyone with information on the defendant’s alleged criminal behavior is asked to call law enforcement at (619) 531-2260, the prosecutor said.

The USD-sponsored volleyball camp during which the sex assault allegedly occurred was held from July 19-22.

The judge scheduled a status conference for next Friday; a readiness conference for Aug. 17; and a preliminary hearing for Aug. 19.