Legendary California high school hoops coach Russell Otis has been found guilty of molesting a former player.
Otis could do a year in jail after a 10-day jury deliberation led to his conviction on the misdemeanor charge. He was acquitted of felony child molestation due to a 10-2 juror deadlock in favor of his guilt. The misdemeanor conviction, jurors say, was largely based on hundreds of text messages that Otis sent to the teenager.
But some say they believe Otis went even further.
“To me, he got off lucky,” one juror said.
“Very lucky,” added the foreman.
The teenager, “Kevin,” alleged that Otis offered him $1,500 for oral sex, but the jury said it was hindered because no one saw the incident. The charge of meeting with a minor for lewd purposes came from Kevin’s claim that Otis drove to his house and called him out to the vehicle to solicit him. The teenager acknowledged that he accepted $100 from the ex-coach to keep quiet after he said no.
Otis built Compton Dominguez High into one of California’s top basketball programs. Between 1987 and 2008, he led the school to five state titles, but his recent trial was the second time he was accused of molestation. Otis was fired by Compton Dominguez after a player charged him with sexual assault in 2000. Otis was acquitted of the charge and re-hired.
The recent trial also resulted in Otis’ acquittal of charges that he put a $15,000 check from Nike into his personal account when it was meant for the program. Otis’ lawyer says the conviction will be appealed.
He could be sentenced on Dec. 1 when prosecutors could also decide to re-try him on the felony charge. For now, Otis is free on bail.
“He walked out of here a free man...,” a juror added. “I hope we never see his name again.”
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