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Parents threaten lawsuit in Visalia student coach sex case

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The parents of a student who says she had sex with her basketball coach are threatening legal action against the school district. They say they should have been warned the man had inappropriate contact with a different student before the incident that got him arrested.

Visalia Attorney Joe Altschule is representing the parents of a 17-year-old Golden West High School student who he says had sex with former assistant girls basketball coach Robert Gonzales. Gonzales is facing one felony count of sex with a minor and is due back in court next month. Visalia Unified claims the 30-year-old was being considered as an assistant coach at Golden West but ultimately was never hired.

"The facts pretty much say something else," Altschule said. "The fact is that he participated in practice he was at games he traveled with the team, he held himself out to be a coach in a letter to the parents that the principal said he resigned she refers to him as coach Gonzales."

Altschule says it's what the school district did not say in that letter that is causing his clients to threaten legal action against Visalia Unified. The letter claims coach Gonzales decided to resign. Altschule says the school never told parents that they believed Gonzales sent text messages and even kissed a student.

"They found out about the inappropriate contact with the other girl then they resigned then my clients hired him without knowing this other issue as a private coach and did morning practices," Altschule said. "And so they continued to have all sorts of contact which never would have happened if the school forewarned them."

Visalia Unified administrators declined to speak to Action News on camera, but said they did not have all the information to confirm whether Gonzales acted inappropriately with a student before they decided not to hire him. In a letter to the media last week, they stated, "At the time he was being considered, the district investigated concerns regarding potential text messages between Mr. Gonzales and students. As a result, he was informed by principal Powell (GWHS) that he would not be recommended for a coaching position."

The district has denied any wrongdoing but Altschule says if legal negotiations with the school fall through they do plan on filing a negligence lawsuit against the district.

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crimetracker, sex crimes, lawsuit, visalia, tulare county, local, jessica peres
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