A former soccer coach for a Baltimore nonprofit pleaded guilty on Thursday to one charge of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl.

Kiyusila “Blaise” Makano, 26, received the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, with all of that time suspended except for 18 months beginning on the date of his arrest in December. He also received three years of supervised probation, during which he will not be allowed to have any unsupervised contact with a minor.

Makano’s only statement to the courtroom was an apology.

”This will take a long time to put behind you,” the judge said. “And a long time for the victim and her family to put this behind them. This is a tragic situation for her.”

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Makano’s attorney wrote in an email that he expressed remorse to the victim and is grateful that the court agreed to the plea deal.

According to police, the offenses occurred while Makano was coaching for Soccer Without Borders, a nonprofit that offers after-school and summer sports leagues and tournaments. The organization also offers academic help, such as assistance with college applications, homework help and English tutoring for children, many of whom are refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. Some of that programming is at city public schools with funding from a patchwork of contracts, grants and partnerships.

Charging documents say Makano and the teenager had a “sexual relationship” over four months in the summer of 2023 and that Makano often recorded their encounters on his phone. The documents also allege that Makano offered the girl $200 in cash to buy her silence after Makano’s wife learned about their relationship.

Staff at Soccer Without Borders learned Makano’s wife allegedly sent threatening social media messages to the girl in October and alerted authorities of suspected abuse days later, said Jennifer Tepper, executive director for Soccer Without Borders. Makano was suspended, then fired, she said. To protect students from the former coach until he was detained, the nonprofit ended its seasonal programming one week early on Nov. 6, she said. A letter explaining the situation was disseminated to community members in early January.

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Soccer Without Borders hired a law firm to conduct an internal investigation in November and December. The investigation found that the nonprofit had no fault in the abuse, as they properly vetted Makano before he began coaching, Tepper said. The vetting process included fingerprinting, background checks and abuse prevention training with SafeSport. Soccer Without Borders also required ongoing staff trainings with sexual violence prevention organizations such as TurnAround, she said.

Soccer Without Borders now requires coaches to wear identification badges and any time that coaches spend alone with students in a company vehicle to be logged in a database.

Before he was a coach, Makano participated in Soccer Without Borders as student. He returned to serve as a coach in 2022 through Up2Us, a federally funded nonprofit that contracts youth sports coaches. A spokesperson for Up2Us said Makano is no longer with the nonprofit.

If you are a victim of sexual violence or in need of non-English legal services, you can find a list of resources here. You can also find non-English legal help at the People’s Law Library of Maryland and help for survivors at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.