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WOODLAND, Mich. (WOOD) - Former Major League Baseball star Chad Curtis has been suspended from his volunteer position at Lakewood High School in Barry County amid a criminal investigation into whether or not he inappropriately touched several students.
Curtis denied the allegations in an interview with 24 Hour News 8 outside of his home. He asked for prayers from the community as the legal process runs its course.
"I don't believe I touched any students inappropriately...I care about my community. I care about my students," Curtis said, declining to comment further about the allegations. "We got some stuff going on and I trust that things are gonna work out fine for all people involved."
"I want to let the process take care of itself the way it's supposed to... I'd ask (the community) to pray for us and pray that this would be resolved in a way that is honoring to God," said Curtis.
School officials would not comment on the specifics of the investigation or comment on what has been alleged. They would only say the investigation involved four students and that Curtis was suspended pending the outcome.
Lakewood schools' Superintendent Michael O'Mara said Curtis had been volunteering with school athletes and substitute teaching in the schools. Curtis was slated to begin as the head coach of Lakewood High School's football team in the coming season.
A background check was performed before Curtis was allowed to work with students and it came up clean, O'Mara said.
Curtis was fired from the athletic director position by NorthPointe Christian High School in 2009 after working at the school for three years. No reason was given by school officials for his dismissal, The Grand Rapids Press reported.
Barry County Prosecutor Tom Evans said he'd gotten word of the investigation involving some "inappropriate touching" reports to police, but said the formal police investigation had not been completed and turned over to his office.
The students coming forth with the allegations were all females, 24 Hour News 8 has learned.
Curtis was an outfielder for the California Angels (1992-1994), Detroit Tigers (1995-1996), Los Angeles Dodgers (1996), Cleveland Indians (1997), New York Yankees (1997-1999) and Texas Rangers (2000-2001).
He is probably most remembered for hitting the walk-off home run in the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1999 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Curtis has not been charged with a crime, though he has retained David Dodge, a high-profile Grand Rapids criminal defense attorney , to represent him.
"Chad Curtis enjoys an excellent reputation in his community," Dodge told 24 Hour News 8. "Mr. Curtis denies any criminal wrongdoing. We are in dialogue with the Barry County Prosecutor's Office in an effort to review all relevant background information."
Dodge would not disclose details related to the accusations.
"I don't want to overstate or understate anything," Dodge said.
Investigators say the case is in its early stages and did not specify a timeline for when the investigation would be completed.
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