Retired teacher/coach charged with sex crimes from 1989-90

Carl Fennell

DOVER — A retired 73-year-old Capital School District teacher and coach was indicted Monday for alleged sex crimes nearly three decades ago, Dover Police said.

According to authorities Wednesday, Dover resident Carl Fennell admitted to committing sexual acts at least 10 times but not more than 20 with an underage girl he coached between July 1989 and May 1990.

The supposed acts took place when Mr. Fennell took the minor to tennis courts at Delaware Technical Community College at 100 Campus Drive in Dover for lessons, spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

Ten counts of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse were brought, police said. Bond information and future court dates were not immediately available.

According to Cpl. Hoffman, “Our understanding is he was acting at some points as a private coach just for the victim.”

Police said a now 43-year-old woman contacted detectives on July 11 and claimed that Mr. Fennell had her perform sexual acts on him in a vehicle after each practice. She said she was 14 years old when the tennis mentorship began.

“It is unusual to see such a gap from the time of occurrence of a crime to the time it is reported to authorities,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

After taking the statement, police said Mr. Fennell was contacted and agreed to an interview with detectives. He acknowledged mentoring during the time frame when the girl was 14 or 15 years old, according to police.

Police said Mr. Fennell was indicted by a grand jury Monday and turned himself in to authorities Wednesday to be formally charged.

Mr. Fennell worked in the Capital School District from 1969 to 2001, police said. In 2015, he was one of 12 people inducted into the Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover.

Mr. Fennell, who taught at Central Middle School, was at Dover High when the Senators were Henlopen co-champions in 2002 and was an assistant coach in the Delaware State University women’s tennis program for three years.

The Elizabeth City, North Carolina native mostly volunteered to coach young players at local courts and various camps, according to a Delaware State News story covering his hall of fame induction three years ago.

“In my neighborhood, it was football, basketball and baseball,” he said at the time. “Nobody played tennis. I wonder how many athletes came through and didn’t have a chance to play tennis.

“So that was my thought — I’m just going to offer to anybody that comes up. I don’t let money come in as an issue. Let’s take it out of the equation and say, ‘All you’ve got to do is get them here.’ I enjoy it. It’s a passion with me.”

Sports Editor Andy Walter contributed to this story.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or


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