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Ex-Sioux City North counselor, coach arrested for sexually assaulting multiple students

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SIOUX CITY – Former North High School counselor and head boys and girls cross country coach Abdier Joel Marrero has been arrested on accusations that he sexually assaulted multiple students over a period of years.

In court documents, students said they did not report the incidents earlier because the “behavior was so normalized.”

Marrero, 40, resigned from both positions in December. He was arrested Tuesday on a warrant stemming from multiple sexual assault complaints.

That same month, an unidentified female student athlete reported multiple incidents of sexual assault, including incidents where he “slapped her buttocks during practice and touched/rubbed her buttocks while hugging her in his office with the door closed,” according to court documents. “She also reported statements that he made implying having sexual intercourse with her on their wedding night and other inappropriate comments.”

Another female student also reported Marrero talking about getting married in the future, stating when she tried to cover up while in his office he “commented about him being her future husband and not to cover up and wait until their wedding night.”

Other female athletes came forward with similar allegations, according to the documents. They said they felt uncomfortable with the interactions but “did not say anything as it was their understanding that the behavior was so normalized because it had been happening for several years.”

It is not specifically stated how many female students were identified as victims, but “several” were identified. The other female students reported Marrero would touch their breasts and other body parts, comment on their clothing choices and comment on their bodies.

The incidents reported occurred between 2018 and 2021.

Other incidents described in the court documents included:

- One student reported seeing Marrero touching the breasts of another female student athlete;

- One of the student athletes reported that she was called into Marrero's school office frequently where he would hug her and touch her buttocks;

- Another student reported Marrero poking/punched her breast while joking around;

- The students also reported Marrero making numerous inappropriate comments about girls’ butts and about how nice the girls would look good wearing Olympic-style bikini bottom shorts and tight shirts;

- One girl reported Marrero telling another girl how her breasts looked nice in the sports bra and other clothes and;

- One student reported how Marrero made a comment to her about how all the boys were looking at her butt because “it is so nice”.

The Sioux City Community School District investigated after several of the students came forward detailing acts committed by Marrero, according to court documents and was interviewed twice as part of the investigation. At the time he admitted slapping girls’ butts and making inappropriate comments as well as sending text messages to students non-related to district activities.

The district said in a comment they cannot provide additional information due to personnel matters.

A warrant for Marrero's arrest was issued Friday for sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist or school employee, a class D felony.

He was arrested Tuesday and was held on a $20,000 bond at the Woodbury County Jail. Arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 19 at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

Marrero started with the Sioux City district in August 2007 as a cross country and track coach at North High School. He was hired as a guidance counselor in 2020. 

Under Marrero, the North boys won the school's first state cross country championship in 2020. The Stars, which were nationally ranked this past season, finished runner-in in the state meet in 2021. 

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