High School Wrestling Coach Sentenced in Molest Case

Monday, May 24, 2010  |  Updated 4:00 PM PDT
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High School Wrestling Coach Sentenced in Molest Case

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 A former Albany High School wrestling coach and a longtime youth  sports volunteer was sentenced today to more than two decades in prison for  molesting three teenage boys.

      Jon Etingoff, a 57-year-old El Cerrito man, was convicted of two  counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under the age of 14 and  one count of lewd and lascivious behavior with a 15-year-old child.
     
He was sentenced to 20 years and eight months to life in state  prison.
     
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Susan Torrence said  investigators received statements from men accusing Etingoff of molestation  as far back as 1975 but her office was only allowed to charge him with  accusations dating back to 1988 because of statute of limitations rules.
     
The case against Etingoff charged him with molesting three victims  but an investigation disclosed at least another six victims, Torrence said.
     
The three victims whose cases were charged spoke out against him  at an emotional hearing today, saying that he seriously damaged their lives  and the lives of their families.
     
"I was violated when I was 10 years old," said one victim, who is  now an adult. He called Etingoff "an arrogant pedophile who is in complete  denial and shows no remorse."
     
The man said Etingoff "can't even acknowledge what he did" and  told Etingoff, "you haven't even looked at the victims throughout this  process."
     
The mother of Etingoff's most recent victim, who came forward in  2007, said Etingoff destroyed many lives and asked Alameda County Judge Julie  Conger to "lock him up forever."
     
"There were many more victims whose lives he touched but didn't  have the ability to come forward," the mother said.
     
Torrence said she thinks the reason it took so long for Etingoff's  behavior to be reported is that in cases of people in positions of authority,  such as coaches, "it's difficult for victims to come forward and it's  difficult for them to be believed."
     
Etingoff was a volunteer assistant coach with the Albany High  School wrestling team and also coached karate and a Pop Warner youth football  league team, Torrence said.
   
 Etingoff didn't speak at his sentencing, but his brother, Steve  Etingoff, spoke on his behalf.
     
"In my heart I find it hard to believe Jon did all these things. I  just don't believe it," Steve Etingoff said.
     
He said no one had complained about his brother until the first  set of allegations surfaced two and a half years ago.
     
But Judge Conger, who issued her verdict against Etingoff last  month at the end of a non-jury trial, said she found the numerous allegations  against Etingoff to be totally believable.
     
Conger said she received many letters from people who said  Etingoff has done good things for them over the years, but she said "this  friendship was used in a very insidious manner and parents were lulled into  thinking their kids were safe with him."
     
Conger said she also found it "very troubling" that two of  Etingoff's victims said they are concerned about how they would treat their  own children in the wake of the abuse they suffered.
   
 Etingoff's lawyer, Judy Browne, asked that a multiple-victim  finding against Etingoff be stricken so that he could receive a more lenient  sentence.
     
But Conger said, "There were so many victims that it would be an  abuse of my discretion if I struck that finding."
 

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