NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - A South Bend youth hockey coach has pleaded guilty to accosting a minor for immoral purposes.
According to our reporting partners at The Herald-Palladium, Christien Joubert’s plea came at a court hearing late last week.
The 39-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts: the original count of accosting a minor for immoral purposes and a reduced count of using a computer or the internet to commit a crime. Both carry maximum penalties of four years in prison.
Authorities say Joubert tried to meet a 15-year-old girl at the Hampton Inn in Niles as part of a sting operation by the Berrien County and Genesee County Sheriff’s Departments. According to the court documents, he also admitted to sending sexually explicit photos to the person he intended to meet with.
Joubert worked with the Ice Box and the Irish Youth Hockey League (IYHL).
His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 26.Original Story
A youth hockey coach who has worked with The Ice Box and the Irish Youth Hockey League was charged last week with soliciting a minor after officials allege he tried to meet a 15-year-old girl at a Niles hotel.
Christien Joubert, 39, is charged in Berrien County with accosting a minor for an immoral purpose, which is a felony offense.
According to court documents, Joubert lives in South Bend but was arrested May 12 for trying to meet an underage girl at a hotel in Niles as part of a sting operation by Berrien and Genesee County sheriff's departments.
Joubert is involved with a couple of youth hockey organizations in South Bend and runs a travel league team.
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Internet archives of the Ice Box's staff page list Joubert as the director of hockey operations for the rink, which hosts a number of leagues and tournaments for youth and adult teams across the region. A webpage listing Joubert's position, which was accessed by The Tribune through a cached screenshot, had been removed by Wednesday.
Michelle Riccio, general manager of the Ice Box, did not answer questions from reporters Wednesday, but said in a written statement that Joubert is no longer involved with the ice rink. "On Sunday, May 15, 2022, we learned of Mr. Joubert’s arrest," the statement read. "Because our organization has a zero-tolerance policy in this regard (as do all of our participating leagues) Mr. Joubert’s involvement with The Ice Box was ended. To the best of our knowledge, the inappropriate activity alleged was completely independent of and has no connection to Mr. Joubert’s work at The Ice Box." Social media pages for the youth travel team North American Alliance Hockey Club list Joubert as the head coach and program director. The organization is listed under a Niles address and the club's registered agent is listed as Erica Joubert.
A phone number listed on the organization's Facebook page was answered by Christien Joubert, but he declined to comment on the charges.
“On advice of my counsel I’m not allowed to say anything at this time," Joubert told a reporter Wednesday.
Minutes from an April 25 meeting of the Irish Youth Hockey League board indicate Joubert was acting as an assistant coach for teams in the league. Board members of the IYHL did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.Criminal charges
If convicted, Joubert faces a maximum of four years in prison, though an additional charge of committing a crime using a computer could add additional time to any sentence imposed.
In court documents filed with the charges, prosecutors accuse Joubert of responding to an advertisement on a dating website that promised sex acts in exchange for money on May 12. After a text exchange that lasted "several hours," prosecutors claim, Joubert agreed to meet with the girl, whom he believed to be 15 years old, at a hotel south of Niles. Joubert allegedly agreed to pay the girl $80 for "sexual favors" and brought some soda at her request, court documents say. When he arrived at the hotel room, officers arrested him. In an interview with detectives, investigators allege in court documents, Joubert said he sent a photo of his penis to the account and that he "typically just uses the website to flirt."
Court documents show Joubert bonded out of jail, though he was ordered by Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock to have no contact with children younger than 18.
Joubert has entered a preliminary plea of not guilty and a trial has been tentatively scheduled for late August.