Coach sentenced for sex with underage player


Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Arthur Wick also sentenced 44-year-old Gregory Tatton to five years' probation and ordered him to register as a sex offender.

The sentence was agreed upon July 2 by both the prosecution and Tatton's attorney in exchange for Tatton pleading no contest to nine of the 26 felony charges against him.

Tatton, coach of a Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer Association traveling team, had sex with the player two or three times a week between June and November 2007, when she was 15 and 16 years old, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing.

The teen's mother became suspicious of the relationship because of text messages Tatton sent her daughter, who is now a 19-year-old college student.

Tatton also sent the teen an amorous 16th birthday card in July 2007, according to testimony at the hearing.

The victim denied having a relationship with Tatton until her mother confronted her in December 2007.

The sheriff's office suspended the investigation when the girl again denied having a relationship with Tatton in February 2008. The investigation resumed in January 2009 when she changed her story and provided details of their affair. Tatton was arrested in Los Angeles on April 3, 2009.

The Sonoma County Probation Department recommended an eight-year, four-month prison term, but Wick said he would abide by the sentence agreement between Chief Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders and defense attorney Ethan Balogh.

The victim's parents strongly objected to the negotiated sentence.

"Honestly, your honor, I would love for him to be on death row. But I also know, with that much hatred, we would never be able to move on with the quality of life I want for my family," the victim's father said.

"I am however, thankful your honor, that this did not linger for 30 years and this miniscule punishment never applied," he said.

The girl's mother said, "There was a glimmer of hope when justice was still pending. This minimal sentence is not just and for now, that hope is gone."

"This sentence glosses over the injustices my daughter and our family have endured," she said, asking Wick to set aside the plea agreement and send Tatton to prison for eight years.

"This sentence does not protect the weak or deter the cunning," the mother said. "It is not a fair, just or satisfactory resolution. Crimes against property have been punished more harshly. This is a misdemeanor sentence for a nine-felony count conviction."

The victim told Wick she fears for her safety because Tatton knows where she lives and can find out details of her life because of their mutual acquaintances.

"My life has been altered in every way possible; I have been forced to question the motives of even my closest relationships, whether it is in my dating life or my social life. I don't feel as if I am a normal teenager," she said.

"Tattons's actions have made my life one big secret. My past has made me a person who fears people, a person I do not want to be," she said.

Tatton apologized to the family, saying his behavior was a "lapse of judgment."

"I never meant any harm and I sincerely apologize to everyone," Tatton said.

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