LANCASTER — The longtime Antelope Valley soccer coach on trial for molesting and sexually abusing more than a dozen underage boys took the witness stand in his own defense Friday.
In a series of longwinded answers over several hours, Renoir Valenti denied it all.
“I have not molested or touched any children inappropriately in all the times I interacted with these kids,” Valenti said, under direct examination by his defense attorney.
Valenti, 54, is facing 21 criminal charges, the majority of which are misdemeanor child molesting. The charges include five felony counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child, as well as four felonies for falsifying his identification. Valenti was arrested Aug. 6, 2012 at his Quartz Hill home, after his neighbor reported that her 9-year-old son had been molested by Valenti.
Prosecutors say Valenti used his position as a local youth soccer coach to prey on numerous young boys over a nearly 20-year period. Valenti’s 15 alleged victims include several young soccer players he coached, young boys who lived in his neighborhood, his son, and his ex-wife, who was 13 when she started dating the 27-year-old Valenti, according to prosecutors.
Speaking from the witness stand Friday, Valenti said he had been “blasted in the media” as “a demon.”
Valenti explained that the young boys who had spent the night at his home over the years were friends of his children, and he said he interacted with his children’s friends because he was not a “bah-hum-bug” type person. The young boys told him their deepest secrets, he was their mentor, and he bought them gifts because he “wanted to make their lives a little brighter,” Valenti testified.
Defense attorney Michael Morse ran through the list of victims, and Valenti elaborated at length in denying the accusations.
In discussing the 9-year-old boy who triggered Valenti’s 2012 arrest, Valenti said he was the boy’s “protector” because the boy was being bullied by his 14-year-old brother.
“As far as putting my mouth over his penis area, I never did that,” Valenti said, when questioned about the boy’s testimony.
Valenti testified that he shared a beer with the boy’s 14-year-old brother during a camping trip in 2012. Valenti said, as the two were drinking beer, the teen threatened to “get rid” of him. He said it was after that incident that the 9-year-old made the claim.
Asked how his DNA got on the crotch area of the 9-year-old’s shorts, Valenti offered another lengthy explanation. He said the two were both “sweating profusely” while at a Sky High Trampoline Park, and he had put the young boy on his shoulders.
“He was sitting on my shoulders with his crotch area against my neck,” Valenti testified, adding that it was the only plausible explanation of how his DNA could have gotten on the boy’s shorts.
When questioned about another young victim, Valenti said it would have been impossible for him to have masturbated and ejaculated in front of the boy.
“As far as masturbating, I’ve been impotent since 1997, so that act could not have happened,” Valenti said.
Defense attorney Michael Morse ended his direct examination of Valenti late Friday afternoon.
Valenti’s calm demeanor turned to exasperation when Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami began his cross-examination. Valenti’s lengthy elaborations were cut short, and he was judge-ordered to answer only the question being asked.
When asked why he had illegally changed his name and date of birth, Valenti said he did so because he feared for his life after witnessing a shooting.
Hatami also questioned Valenti about a background check Valenti gave to the mother of one of his victims. Valenti said he’d given the woman the document because he wanted to put to rest the woman’s concerns about him taking her young son to Universal Studios. The background check did not include Valenti’s 2006 arrest for continuous sexual abuse of a child, Hatami said. That arrest did not result in charges and the allegations were unfounded, so he was not compelled to disclose the information, Valenti countered.
Hatami also questioned Valenti about his ex-wife’s claims that they separated because of his addiction to young boys. Valenti denied the claim, and said they were divorced because his wife was too possessive.
Court is expected to resume Tuesday morning, with prosecutors continuing cross-examination. Valenti faces up to life in prison, if convicted on all charges.
Previous related stories: