Police look for baseball coach wanted for child molestation

March 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities are looking for Joel Kaufman, a Bay Area high school baseball coach, wanted for child molestation. Police say he sexually abused one child and videotaped another. They say he tried to kill himself when he was first arrested last summer. Now he is facing charges and is nowhere to be found.

According to police, Kaufman allegedly molested one of those children last year, but he wasn't charged, pending a further investigation. On Wednesday that investigation ended and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office charged Kaufman with three felony and three misdemeanor counts of child molestation involving two boys. They also issued a warrant for his arrest.

Kaufman, 52, was pictured with the California Smoke -- a travelling high school club that often plays college teams. Kaufman also coached two Bay Area high school baseball teams in the past.

He owns Triple Play Batting Cages in San Leandro. A manger told ABC7 News that police investigators came in on Wednesday looking for Kaufman, who is wanted on a $300,000 arrest warrant. Parents we spoke to were stunned that the owner of this business that caters to children is wanted by police.

"It's surprising, but you hear it all the time nowadays with teachers and people in positions of responsibility and authority. And it's awful," said parent John Zentener.

Tim Hamilton of Castro Valley says he has come to the batting cages for years, but never met Kaufman.

"Hearing something like this is rather shocking and absolutely unacceptable. I hope the charges aren't true," said Hamilton.

Kaufman was charged with three felony and two misdemeanor counts of molesting a boy under 14 years old between September 2005 and June 2012. He's charged with another misdemeanor for videotaping another child while the boy was in the bathroom.

He was arrested last July for the first alleged molestations after parents complained, but was not charged. Days later he attempted suicide according to police.

Orinda police told us that they searched in Orinda and San Leandro for Kaufman, but so far he is nowhere to be found. We went to his home on Claremont Way in Orinda, which was shut up tight. Neighbors say they don't really know the man. Kaufman always keeps to himself.

"Over 20 years, not a word. Not a hello. He just comes out, that garage door goes open, and he drives down the street. Never turns his head, never said hello to him," said neighbor Art Ratner.

Orinda police have not said how Kaufman knew the boys. They do believe that there are other victims and are asking anyone with information to give them a call. They're also asking Kaufman to turn himself in.


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