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MN Wilderness assistant coach Brendan Phelps accused of predatory sexual solicitation

By Will Peterson , 07/11/22, 7:15PM CDT

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Photo: Minnesota Wilderness Facebook page

Content warning: The following article contains details of sexual misconduct involving minors and may not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

According to a July 11th article from Duluth-based WDIO, Brendan Phelps has been let go from the Minnesota Wilderness organization. 

In a video uploaded to YouTube on July 9th, Wilderness assistant coach Brendan Phelps was confronted by three vigilante child predator hunters with damning evidence in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.

In the nearly eighteen-minute-long video, uploaded in its entirety to YouTube (viewer discretion advised), Phelps is accused of, and admits to, making the four-hour drive from Cloquet, MN (where the Wilderness is based) to Sleepy Eye, MN to meet who he believed to be a sixteen-year-old boy. The video opens with a slew of background information: the men, who are affiliated with a group called Midwest Predator Catchers, posed as a sixteen-year-old on a popular dating app to lure child predators into contacting them. Phelps used the alias "Anthony" on the app and sought out who he believed to be the sixteen-year-old boy through direct messages. Initially, Phelps denies many of the claims, but he opens up when faced with the threat of police involvement.

With all the cards stacked against him, Phelps fesses up to making the lengthy trip south, purchasing alcoholic beverages and a hotel room for this minor, and admits his intent was to engage in sexual acts.

Although never shown on screen, one of the confrontationists possessing the message transcripts reveals details of lewd images and videos sent from Phelps. Sparing the details, the distribution of this type of content is a felony in Minnesota and serves as the most likely charge that Phelps would obtain criminally. Throughout the video, the producers mention police involvement, and at the end of the video, one of the crew members says that a case will be filed with the Sleepy Eye police department.

Brendan Phelps grew up playing AAA hockey in Colorado, eventually returning to coach that same youth program after a brief stint in the NAHL as a player. Phelps's involvement with the Rocky Mountain Roughriders began with serving as a U15 coach in the organization, eventually progressing to the U18 level before leaving Colorado for his current role with the Wilderness. In addition to his duties as associate head coach, Phelps was previously listed as a member of the coaching staff of the Wilderness's U18 program, which makes this story all the more harrowing. YHH reached out to a former player (whose name is being withheld for player safety) who voiced his frustrations and concerns.

"I was disgusted," the former player said. "To know that man worked with kids for years makes you wonder what things would go through his head in locker rooms, and if this behavior is not something new. To see someone turn out to be a person like that makes you question other adults around you. Needless to say, he should never be allowed around children again."

YHH's attempts to reach the North American Hockey League  and the Minnesota Wilderness on July 11th went unanswered. 

As of this article's publication, Phelps has not been criminally charged. 

Note: A change has been made to reflect that Phelps was not the head coach of the Wilderness's U18 team. He was a member of the coaching staff. 


MINNESOTA WILDERNESS STATEMENT TO WDIO

The Minnesota Wilderness was informed on Sunday, July 10, that a video making allegations against Assistant Coach Brendan Phelps had been posted on YouTube and possibly other social media sites. The Wilderness has been in contact with the North American Hockey League, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and local authorities regarding this matter.

Mr. Phelps' employment by The Wilderness has ended effective immediately and he has been suspended from all participation in any USA Hockey sanctioned activity, including all activity within the jurisdiction of the NAHL. Based on the information currently available to the The Wilderness, the conduct in question does not appear to have involved any NAHL player personnel or activities.

Local authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport are handling this matter and The Wilderness will cooperate with their efforts, in coordination with the NAHL. The team encourages any player, player's family member, or billet family member who has concerns about Mr. Phelps' behavior to contact team representatives, so that they can be put in contact with the U.S. Center for SafeSport and/or local authorities.

The incident is now being handled by the local authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Therefore, in cooperation with their investigations, the Minnesota Wilderness has no further comment at this time.

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