‘I trusted him with my son’: 255 years in prison for East Bay tennis coach convicted of child molestation
‘I trusted him with my son’: 255 years in prison for East Bay tennis coach convicted of child molestation.Photo: . Pictures may be protected by copyright.
A youth tennis instructor was sentenced to 255 years-life Friday.
MARTINEZ — After an emotional and tense Friday afternoon hearing, a disgraced Bay Area tennis instructor was sentenced to 255 years years in prison for 60 counts of child molestation involving two teen students. Normandie Burgos, 55, did not speak during his 4-and-a-half-hour sentencing hearing, which saw clashes between his attorney and the judge, as well as shouts from the gallery as the defense was presenting its case for leniency. But Burgos heard from the mother of one of his two victims, as well as a former Tamalpais High School student who’d accused Burgos of sexual abuse years ago. Judge Charles “Ben” Burch, who handed down the sentence, noted the boys’ young ages and said they were in a vulnerable position. It is technically a life sentence, with no chance of parole for the first 255 years. “I trusted him with my son…like idiots, we believed him,” said the mother of John Doe 1, one of two named victims who was in his early teens at the time. “We wrote thank you letters to him…He would look us in the eye and say, ‘You’re so welcome. Your son is a champion.’” “That was all during the time he was molesting my son,” she continued, later describing Burgos as “evil.” The woman added she’d spoke to the mother of another former student who showed her a letter from Burgos, saying he’d been “falsely accused” of sex crimes and asking for support. Five people, including Burgos’ sister, showed up to support the defense. “He was always looking out for other people,” Burgos’ sister, Mimi Lucks, said to the judge Friday, describing her brother as a “giving, compassionate” person who “always puts the needs of others first” and didn’t match the description presented by prosecutors during trial. As she finished her remarks, she turned to Doe 1’s mother, and said: “I’m a mother. I’ve heard you. And I’m sorry.” Doe 1’s mother began to angrily respond, but was shouted down by bailiffs and the judge. Later, she yelled out her son’s age as Burgos’ attorney was speaking, prompting a final warning from Burch. Burgos’ attorney, Michael Coffino, argued that a life sentence with no parole for 255 years was cruel and unusual punishment, and “disproportionate” to the offenses. He disputed the jury’s finding that Burgos had placed his victims under duress — which made Burgos eligible for a life sentence — saying that the evidence was that Burgos threatened to “withhold tennis lessons” and that it was sex for material gain, not something akin to forcible rape. Deputy district attorney Jordan Sanders, by contrast, told the judge Burgos’ molestation was the result of a plan years in the making. “He is a child predator, however nice he may have been to friends and other athletes,” Sanders said. “Sexual grooming was a game to him. It was his sport.” Burch and Coffino clashed throughout the hearing, the judge at one point accusing the attorney of “circular logic” when he accused prosecutors of making contradictory arguments. Later in the hearing, Coffino unsuccessfully objected to Doe 1’s aunt and Burgos’ former student giving victim impact statements, arguing only charged victims and immediate family should speak. Later, when Coffino introduced Lucks, Burch said it was “ironic” Coffino wanted to introduce someone who wasn’t directly connected to the case, because of his earlier objection. This led to a brief back and forth between the two. Burgos was a tennis coach at Marin’s Tamalpais High School in 2011 when he was accused of groping and other inappropriate touching of students. He was fired from his coaching job and put on trial in Marin County, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict. After that, Burgos moved to Richmond and set up a private tennis instructing business. Despite his recent, well-publicized trial, he was able to attract top tennis students from the all over the Bay Area. “He reeled us in…I feel so stupid that I believed him,” Doe 1’s mother said. “He basically convinced us that there was this big homophobic conspiracy against him.” The 60 counts related to Burgos performing oral sex on the boys, engaging in sodomy, and other sexual interactions that took place during tennis lessons at Burgos’ home. Evidence during trial included surreptitiously-recorded video where Burgos admitted to having sex with one of them. He took the stand during trial, denied the charges, and claimed the boy “intimidated” him into detailing the sexual abuse.