His life as he knew it was stripped away five years ago after being falsely accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl who played on his club soccer team.
Now, Joe Leonetti is piecing his life back together by teaching the game he loves.
Leonetti always maintained his innocence. The district attorney threw out the case brought against him on the first day of trial.
It was happening at the same time his wife Holly was fighting breast cancer. His high school sweetheart lost her battle three years ago.
Now, the one-time U.S. National Team player and University of Portland hall of famer from Gladstone is getting back to a new life in the old game.
“You find out how much support is out there and it is really quite humbling,” Leonetti said.
The 48-year-old father of three grown children has served as executive director of the Eastside Timbers U-16 Program since last August.
Leonetti and assistant director Carly Copplestone just wrapped up an eight-week after-school program to grow recreational soccer in the Centennial School District.
“We aren’t only talking soccer, we are talking life skills,” Copplestone said.
Grant money pays for the busing of kids for the program, and Leonetti and the Eastside Timbers aim to double the number of participating students and schools for the fall and to eventually make it a year-long program involving neighboring districts, as well.
Last month, a judge dismissed a $7 million lawsuit filed by Leonetti against Clackamas County that alleged false arrest, malicious prosecution and denial of his rights. Leonetti has appealed that ruling.
After all he’s been through, Leonetti said he is working hard to give back and give opportunities to those who need it.
“You never know what that one opportunity is that really pushes a kid to the next level or being prideful or respectful,” Leonetti said.
RELATED: Feb. 2015: Case against prominent youth soccer coach dismissedFeb. 2015: With sex abuse case dismissed, soccer coach asks: ‘How did this happen?’Jan. 2016: Oregon City man falsely accused of molesting girl sues Clackamas County
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