An Arizona man hired as a hitting coach for youth girls' softball players has been convicted of sexually abusing the underage athletes.
Buck Maldonado Thomas, 43, was found guilty by a jury Thursday of multiple crimes including forcible sexual assault of a minor, first-degree burglary and sexual battery on a minor, according to a news release from the Yolo County (Calif.) District Attorney’s Office, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.
A Yolo County girl was the first athlete to make a complaint, telling police that Thomas had sexually assaulted her at her home in July 2018, prosecutors said. She revealed the abuse in November 2018. Her family had hired Thomas as a private hitting coach after the girl met him at a softball tournament in Orange County.
The West Sacramento Police Department immediately investigated the allegations against Thomas after the initial complaint and then learned of a second possible local victim who also trained with him. Other alleged victims, from Arizona and Nevada, have come forward since.
The freelance batting coach did not have his own facility. Instead, he coached girls at his home or traveled to their homes. He faces a maximum life prison sentence for the West Sacramento crimes that occurred in West Sacramento, The Bee reported.
“Mr. Thomas used his notoriety as a hitting coach to gain the trust of the parents and the minor victims in order to accomplish his sexual assaults,” District Attorney Jeff Reisig said in the news release. “We are grateful this trial gave these brave victims a voice and glad that the jury did justice in this case.”