Family of Hamilton County diving coach speaks out following arrest

NOBLESVILLE, Ind.—The family of a Hamilton County diving coach accused of inappropriately touching three women, including a 15-year old, is speaking out following his arrest.

Johel Ramirez Suarez, 34, of Noblesville is facing more than 30 charges, including sexual misconduct with a minor, child seduction and misdemeanor battery.

Suarez’s brother, visiting the U.S. for the holidays, said he doesn’t believe the accusations.

“Everything that that girls told about him I don’t, I don’t believe,” Javier Ramirez said.

Ramirez described his brother as a good person, who is responsible and well liked.

“He has a great heart,” he said.

Officers with the Hamilton County Metro Child Exploitation Task force arrested Suarez Tuesday.

According to court documents, the allegations date from 2015 to this month. Three victims, divers who were associated with Ripfest Diving Camp, said Suarez inappropriately touched their genital area during stretches and massages.

Court documents show one victim told police “it was more than she could count” when asked how many times it occurred.

“He had certain job duties to engage in massages or stretching and to help out these young athletes however under these circumstances his hand ventured where it should not have ventured,” Andre Miksha, a Hamilton County deputy prosecutor, said.

When police interviewed Suarez, investigators said Johel admitted to intentionally touching the genital area of one of the victims. He told police “each time he wanted to see what kind of reaction he would get,” according to court documents.

One parent who sent her son to Ripfest Diving Camp said the news disgusts her to hear.

“I’m very happy to hear that he was fired and I hope that it raises people’s outlook on paying closer attention to make sure this doesn’t continue to go on, I would hate for this place to get a bad reputation because they have so much to offer and they did an exceptional job training my son this year,” Carolyn Thill said.

RipFest Diving spokesman Roger Harvey issued this statement:

“When we were made aware of allegations against one of our coaches, we immediately removed him from our program and instructed him not to return to our facility pending the outcome of the investigation. In light of recent developments, we have terminated him immediately. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and we will continue to do so. RipFest Diving is committed to providing the highest quality training for our diving students in an extremely professional and safe environment.”

Ramirez Suarez was also an assistant diving coach at North Central High School, and has been terminated. Washington Township schools issued this statement:

"Washington Township Schools received information from Hamilton County Law Enforcement that our assistant diving coach, Johel Ramirez, has allegations levied against him of improper conduct through a swim club he is associated with in Arcadia, IN. Immediately upon receiving this information, Washington Township placed him on administrative leave from his assistant diving coaching position at North Central High School. Upon learning of his recent arrest and charges against him, the district has terminated his employment with Washington Township. We do not have any reports or information that any students in Washington Township are involved in this alleged misconduct."

USA Diving issued this statement due to RipFest being one of their diving clubs:

“USA Diving is aware of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Ramirez Suarez and has suspended his USA Diving membership. We place tremendous importance on protecting and preserving the safety of our athletes and have followed Safe Sport protocol as outlined by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport.”

Outside of the pool, the accusations are hard for Suarez’s pregnant girlfriend, to understand.

“I feel bad because I’m 3 months pregnant and at this time everything that I’m feeling is affecting the baby,” Dayana Carmona said in Spanish. “I’m sure Johel is not the person they’re accusing him of being.”

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