A longtime Bay Area baseball coach has been charged with molesting one teen boy and secretly filming another in a bathroom, prosecutors said on Wednesday. It is unclear if these boys played baseball for him.
The Contra Costa Deput District Attorney's Office charged Joel Kaufman, 52, of Orinda who previously coached at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland and Palo Alto High School, with six felonies and three misdemeanors Wednesday. Authorities also issued a $300,000 warrant for his arrest and they are actively seeking him.
Kaufman is the head coach of the California Smoke, a premier traveling club for high school-age boys based in San Jose whose players often go on to play on college teams.
One mother of a player on that team, who didn't want to be identified, said the boys feel violated even though she isn't aware that anyone on the team was molested. She always thought Kaufman was an "odd bird," but never capable of what he is being charged with.
Its players in 2012 came from high schools in Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.
Kaufman is also the owner and operator of Triple Play U.S.A., a batting cage facility in San Leandro, authorities said. He coached varsity baseball at Bishop O'Dowd from 1999 to 2005. He next coached at Palo Alto High for the 2006 season.
Police first arrested Kaufman in August but charges weren't filed, and within days Kaufman attempted suicide in a Monterey hotel room, according to police, the Contra Costa Times reported.
Deputy District Attorney Chad Mahalich said Joel Kaufman is charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors involving a minor male victim for alleged crimes from September 2005 to June 2012. Those charges are two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child, and one felony count of sexual penetration of a drugged person. Kaufman is accused of drugging the boy with an unknown substance.
As to allegations involving a second victim, Kaufman is charged with one misdemeanor count of using a concealed video camera to secretly film the teen boy in a bathroom in a state of undress. The second victim was identified after officers searched Kaufman's home and discovered the footage of the recording, said Orinda police Sgt. Neil Rafanan.
Authorities are not releasing how Kaufman knew the boys including whether they played baseball for him, to protect their anonymity. Both police and prosecutors said they suspect there are more victims.
Anyone with information on the case can call Rafanan or Detective Travis Dennison at 925-254-6820.