FRANKLIN, Ind. (Daily Journal) - A former Greenwood tennis coach has been sentenced to two yearsin prison after inappropriately touching three teen girls who cameto him for private lessons.
Don Kawamoto, 53, pleaded guilty in August to three felonycounts of sexual misconduct with a minor as part of a pleaagreement with the Johnson County Prosecutor's Office.
He was joined at his sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon byfriends and family, including his wife and four children, who spokeof Kawamoto as a good man, father and tennis coach.
Eight years in prison was the maximum sentence Kawamoto couldhave received. Factors such as a lack of criminal history balancedwith the fact that Kawamoto broke a trust relationship with thevictims led Johnson County Magistrate Richard Tandy to hand down asentence of six years at the Department of Correction with all buttwo years suspended.
Kawamoto was arrested in January after a 15-year-old girl toldpolice that he put his hands down her shirt and touched her breastsduring a private lesson at a school facility, according to aprobable-cause affidavit.
Kawamoto was fired from his first-year job as the boys varsitytennis coach at Greenwood Community High School.
At Thursday's hearing, the mother of one victim read a statementaloud, detailing how her daughter's life was affected by Kawamoto.Her daughter has problems sleeping and seldom goes out withfriends, instead opting to stay home.
Kawamoto's family painted a different picture of him. His wife,Cindy, spoke of an attentive, devoted husband who would do anythingfor his children, on the tennis court and at home.
Getting fired from his job and having to register as a sexoffender and endure media attention has been enough of apunishment, Cindy Kawamoto said.
Her husband apologized to his victims and wished them good luckin the future in both academics and athletics.
"I'm truly sorry for what I did," Kawamoto said during hishearing.
He originally faced another felony charge, sexual battery, butthe prosecutor's office could prove only one of the two feloniesfrom the first victim, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper hassaid.
Prosecutors opted to pursue sexual misconduct with a minorinstead of sexual battery because the former charge is ahigher-class felony and comes with a harsher sentence.
Two other girls came forward after the first teen made a report,and both said that similar incidents had happened to them over thepast two years, the affidavit said.
The girls told police they couldn't remember how many times theincidents happened because they occurred often. In the case of oneof the girls, Kawamoto told her parents not to come with theirdaughter to her lessons because their presence made her notpractice as well, the affidavit said.
In two cases, Kawamoto called the girl a crybaby. He called onegirl a crybaby after she wouldn't lift up her shirt for him andtold another girl she was one, too, according to the affidavit.
After the first victim came forward, Kawamoto told police thathe was trying to improve the girl's swing and accidentally touchedher breast, Greenwood Police Chief Joe Pitcher has said.
Kawamoto later told officers that he touched the girl for sexualgratification and that in the past he had paid extra attention topositioning students because it gave him sexual gratification,Pitcher said.
As part of his sentence, Kawamoto will have to continuecounseling.
Thanks to the Johnson County Daily Journal for this story.
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