LOS ANGELES – A state appeals court panel has overturned a former American Youth Soccer Organization coach’s conviction on sex-related charges involving seven boys and one girl, but upheld his conviction on similar counts involving seven other boys.
In a 46-page ruling, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found that there was insufficient evidence to support Renoir Valenti‘s conviction on one felony count of continuous sexual abuse involving one boy and two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child involving two other boys. The panel also ruled that a misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child involving a girl was filed under a law that did not exist at the time of the alleged crime in the 1980s.
Those counts cannot be retried.
Citing “conflicting jury instructions” that violated Valenti’s right to due process, the panel on Thursday also reversed his conviction on four other misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child involving four other boys and sent back the case for retrial on those counts.
“I respect the Court of Appeal’s decision, but I disagree with it,” said Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, who prosecuted the case.
The appeals court panel affirmed Valenti’s conviction on charges involving the other seven boys.
Valenti was sentenced in April 2014 to more than 130 years to life in state prison and was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
He was convicted in February 2014 of 13 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts.
The charges involved crimes committed between 1995 and 2012 at homes where Valenti lived in Quartz Hill, Palmdale and Lancaster, along with other locations, including soccer fields in the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita, the prosecutor said.
Six of the children were soccer players he had coached, and the victims were typically between 8 and 12 years old, Hatami said.
Valenti — who used numerous aliases — was arrested in August 2012.
Authorities said that he had coached for more than 16 years, and that an investigation was launched after the mother of one of the boys reported that her son had been molested.
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