Former youth baseball coach gets 10-year prison sentence

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Joel Kaufman

A longtime youth baseball coach convicted of sexually abusing multiple children over a 30-year period will spend the next decade in prison for his crimes.

Joel Kaufman, 53, of Orinda, was sentenced in a Martinez courtroom on Monday to 10 years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty last week to one charge of penetration of an unconscious person and three charges of lewd and lascivious acts on a child. He also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child between 13 and 14 years old and one count of unlawfully videotaping someone.

The charges stem from the sexual abuse of three children over the course of three decades, according to Deputy District Attorney Chad Mahalich.

However, the prosecutor said, Kaufman allegedly sexually abused up to a dozen more victims between 11 and 16 years old but couldn’t be charged for all of the acts due to complex statute of limitations laws.

Many of the victims’ family members as well as one of the victims attended the former coach’s sentencing hearing on Monday.

That victim spoke at the hearing on behalf of all the victims, Mahalich said.

“I thought it was very powerful and took a lot of courage — that person felt a huge weight off their chest after sitting with this for so many years,” the prosecutor said.

Most of the victims were members of the baseball teams Kaufman coached at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, at Palo Alto High School and for the California Smoke, an 18-and-under traveling baseball team based in San Jose, according to prosecutors.

Kaufman was initially arrested on suspicion of child molestation in August 2012 but was released.

On March 22, 2013 he turned himself in to the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez on an arrest warrant and was released the same day on $325,000 bail.

He was out of custody and wearing a GPS ankle monitor until Monday.

During the hearing Kaufman offered an apology to the victims and their families and spoke about being sexually abused as a child himself.

“Regardless of whether that’s true or not doesn’t excuse the behavior and in some ways I think it makes it that much more deplorable,” Mahalich said.

“You still have to make the decision to do the conscious act and to do that repeatedly to multiple victims is heinous and predatory,” he said.

The prosecutor said Kaufman likely victimized more children who have not yet reported the abuse, and that any other victims are encouraged to come forward.< >

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