By Benjamin Paulin, Globe Correspondent
The former coach of the Walpole High football team that won a state football championship earlier this month turned himself in to police in Tucson, Ariz. tonight after he was charged with raping a student at the school.
Daniel Villa, who is originally from Arizona, turned himself in just before 9 p.m. after police spent almost two days trying to coax him into surrendering.
A former professional who played six years for the Patriots, Villa faces three counts of rape of a child over 14, and three counts of enticing a minor, police said. The warrant for his arrest was issued Friday in Wrentham District Court.
Police believe the only victim was a Walpole High student-athlete. The crimes occurred in the past several months, said Walpole Police Chief Richard Stillman. He would not elaborate on the details of the case.
The Walpole High School principal sent a note Saturday to parents, saying the school administration "will do everything that we can to support our students, protect any and all alleged victims, and keep the orderly operation of the high school as our highest priorities," according to a copy of the message provided to the Globe by a former student.
He added that guidance and counseling staff will be available at the high school on Monday for students. The school is currently closed for the holidays until Jan. 5.
Police thought Villa, 44, a Walpole resident, was going to turn himself in late Friday, said Stillman, but he did not show up. A source close to the investigation said that Walpole had issued a nationwide "lookout" for Villa, and that by today police believed he was not in Massachusetts.
Then, just before 9 p.m. this evening, Tucson police sent Walpole investigators a teletype saying they had the former pro football player in custody.
"It's what we needed to have happen," Stillman said. "To be that far away from here was not a good place to be and it definitely gave us reason to believe he might not come back. We're gratified he's now in custody."
Villa's lawyer, Heather V. Baer, issued a statement by e-mail saying that Villa had originally planned to surrender Monday.
"On learning this afternoon that Arizona police were nevertheless seeking to arrest him on the Massachusetts charges, Mr. Villa turned himself in to local authorities," the statement said. "Mr. Villa intends to plead not guilty at his arraignment in Massachusetts."