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Former Visalia basketball coach will go to trial

Monday, December 03, 2012

A judge ruled Monday there is enough evidence for a former South Valley coach to stand trial.

He's accused of having sex with an underage student.

Robert Gonzales was all set to be hired as Golden West High School's assistant basketball coach. But Visalia Unified ultimately did not hire him after they learned of possible questionable behavior with a student.

On Monday Gonzales learned he will go to trial on charges he had sex with a 17-year-old girl that he coached.

30-year-old Robert Gonzales is charged having sex with a 17-year-old Golden West High School student. He was her private tutor and was also at many Golden West girls' basketball functions. That's because he was in the running to be the team's assistant coach.

He ultimately was not hired over suspicions he acted inappropriately with a student.

In court Gonzales had little reaction after he learned he would have to go to trial the felony charge of having unlawful sex with a minor.

"Based on his ruling we feel the charges were appropriate at the time we field the case earlier in 2012 and again we're pleased with the judge's ruling," Tim Ward said.

During the's hearing, Visalia Police Detective Scott Nelson detailed accounts of the affair including that the student was the initiator and that it took place at Robert Gonzales' house.

Detective Nelson also said the two had a conversation after they had sex about how what they were doing was illegal.

"She indicated that she definitely had talked about it and that she should not talk about it because of the age difference and the fact that she was a minor he could get in trouble," Nelson said.

During cross examination Gonzales' attorney Alexander Martin painted the victim as a liar who told two different stories to police. At first, during a recorded conversation, the victim told police she and Gonzales didn't have sex.

"I don't remember the exact verbiage but basically she denied it," Nelson said.

Then after police told her she could face charges if she did not tell the truth, Det. Nelson testified that the victim changed her story.

"After being pressured by the officers that she may be arrested she then states that my client did commit this crime so we believe there's some motive some bias," Alexander Martin, Robert Gonzales' attorney, said.

The district attorney's office stands by their case saying they have enough evidence to charge Gonzales with the crime. If he's convicted of the charge he faces a maximum term of 3 years in prison.

Robert Gonzales will be back in court later this month to enter a plea.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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