Sonoma Valley soccer coach faces more charges in sex case
BY LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:11 p.m.
Lawyers for a former Sonoma Valley youth soccer coach now facing more than 30 counts of inappropriate sexual activity with one of his teenage players are trying to obtain the girl’s health records.
But that brought a strong rebuke from prosecutors as a preliminary hearing was set to begin in Sonoma County Court Thursday for Gregory Vance Tatton, 43, and ultimately led to a delay in the hearing until the issue is resolved.
Tatton entered not guilty pleas to an amended criminal complaint that added 21 additional charges against the former soccer coach. He was initially charged with 10 counts.
Tatton, who now lives in Southern California and is free on $150,000 bail, is charged with 18 counts of having sex with the girl, seven counts of lewd conduct and six counts of oral copulation with her.
None of the alleged acts include allegations of force, but by law minors cannot consent to sexual activity with adults. The girl, who was a player on Tatton’s under-17 Sonoma Valley traveling soccer team, was 15 and 16 years old at the time of the alleged incidents, according to court documents.
Tatton’s lawyers said Thursday they are seeking information about the girl’s school history and mental health care. They have subpoenaed documents from three high schools the girl attended and “treatment and counseling records from Kaiser Permanente,” said defense attorney Ethan Balogh.
Prosecutor Jason Riehl called the effort to obtain that type of confidential information about the girl and her parents “borderline harassment.”
It is improper to subpoena the girl’s interviews with psychiatrists, psychologists and medical personnel and mental health assessments and diagnoses involving the girl and her parents, Riehl said.
“These are things that very clearly should not be provided to counsel,” he said.
Balogh of San Francisco and fellow defense attorney Tamara Rice Lave of Berkeley also subpoenaed records believed held by the girl’s mother, apparently including calendars.
Judge Arthur Andy Wick said the court has already received some subpoenaed records from the girl’s current high school and Kaiser, and they have remained under seal.
Wick set a July 23 hearing discuss which records may be disclosed.
The preliminary hearing was reset for Aug. 13, after which Wick will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
According to court documents, the girl revealed the sexual relationship to a psychologist, who alerted law enforcement.
Sheriff’s detectives said Tatton arranged to get the girl out of school during the day for get-togethers. After the parents removed her from one high school, Tatton was seen driving by her new campus, the girl’s mother said.
In December 2007, the parents got a restraining order against Tatton after they said they learned of several inappropriate incidents.
Investigators say most of the alleged sexual acts occurred in Sonoma County, but at least one happened during a soccer trip to Southern California.
In May, Tatton turned down a plea bargain after a closed-door mediation session. According to a member of the girl’s family, the deal would have included a sentence of about 4 1/2 years in prison.
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