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Ventura County Star (California)
A Camarillo youth soccer coach pleaded guilty Friday to molesting a former player between late 2007 to 2009, authorities said.
Vincent Thomas, 48, of Thousand Oaks, pleaded guilty to felony lewd act upon a 15-year-old and a related crime, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Tom Dunlevy.
He entered the change in plea Friday in Ventura County Superior Court before Judge Bruce Young as part of a plea agreement. Thomas initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The alleged "sexual relationship" was reported to authorities in June, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.
Thomas began with some touching when the victim was 15, and the crime became more sexual when the victim was 16, Dunlevy said.
Thomas was arrested July 10 after being contacted by detectives. Based on their conversation with him, detectives believed they had enough information to arrest him, authorities said.
"He made certain admissions pertaining to the crime during the investigation," Dunlevy said.
Thomas' defense attorney, William Haney, declined to comment because the case is still pending in court.
The prosecutor said Thomas is expected to be sentenced to one year in custody, to be placed on five years of formal probation and will have to register as a sex offender. Dunlevy said he was glad Thomas "took responsibility" at an early stage, sparing the victim and her family from trial.
Thomas, who was 37 at the time of the first alleged offense, had been a youth soccer coach in Ventura County for about 20 years, sheriff's officials said.
At the time he was arrested, he was listed as a girl's soccer coach on the Camarillo Eagles Soccer Club and had been coaching locally since 1992. He coached three Eagles teams, according to the club website, the girls under-18 premier team, girls under-16 premier team and girls under-12 gold team.
But on Monday, he was not listed as a coach on the club's website.
Club President Kathleen Kelley said Thomas was suspended indefinitely after the arrest. He was officially terminated from the club when he was charged with the alleged sex crimes on July 12, Kelley said.
"His contract was terminated on the day he was charged. As soon as it was official then yes he was terminated..," Kelley said. "The Eagles have not had any communication with him whatsoever."
A search warrant was also served at Thomas' home the day he was arrested but no evidence was found. And no other possible victims have come forward, Dunlevy said.
"I think it was, from what I understand, an isolated incident from one person," Kelley said.
Once word spread about the arrest, parents of players in the program were initially in shock but Kelley said she mostly received calls of support for Thomas.
Still, the club decided to have a therapist come in to offer support for whoever needed it. Only one person showed up, Kelley said.
"It was actually really good for the one person because they had a close player-coach relationship," the club president said.
The league started up in September and it has since been business as usual, Kelley said. She hopes that the victim has some kind of closure.
"I just hope that the victim is OK and that she is now able to move on with her life... No family should have to go through this. As a mother, I get it. It's bad," Kelley said.
Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. April 3 in Courtroom 12.
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