Friday, October 30, 2009

Tatton Goes to Trial

All Sonoma News Today Posts and Comments on Tatton

Greg Tatton

Thu 10/29 6 PM

Tatton ordered to stand trial

By David Bolling

Former Sonoma Valley soccer coach Greg Tatton, 43, has been charged with 20 counts of sexual misconduct with a teenage girl and was ordered to stand trial by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Arthur Wick.

The ruling came Wednesday at the end of a preliminary hearing that was delayed for more than a week during key testimony by a detective with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. Tatton's San Francisco attorney, Ethan Balogh, dubbed by one magazine as a "Northern California Super Lawyer," had challenged the testimony of Det. Jake Vivian, charging the detective lied in order to obtain key evidence contained in the victim's cell phone records.

Balogh's firm promotes on its Web site the success of partner Benjamin Coleman in winning appeals of criminal convictions, convincing judges to dismiss charges and obtaining complete reversals on appeal. Wick, however, ruled against Balogh's motion to strike Vivian's testimony and dismiss the case, finding instead there was enough evidence to hold Tatton over for trial. The prosecution's case presented evidence alleging that the girls' soccer coach had sex with one of his players on numerous occasions, sometimes two and three times a week, when she was 15- and 16-years-old and he was 40 and 41.

Tatton coached an elite traveling team that played games from San Diego to far Northern California. Some of the alleged sexual acts occurred during road trips, others allegedly occurred in the Sonoma Valley, sometimes in Tatton's vehicle.

He was earlier charged with 18 counts of having sex with the girl, seven counts of lewd conduct and six counts of oral copulation, but several of the charges were dropped. Tatton has entered pleas of not guilty to all charges and remains free on $150,000 bail. He is a mortgage broker now living in Southern California. Tatton has been banned for life by the California Youth Soccer Association but was once a highly successful and charismatic coach who led several girls' teams to championship seasons.

But his relationship with the victim ultimately aroused the suspicion of her parents who sought a restraining order against him and described to the court his influence on their daughter as "inappropriate" and "harmful." Police were eventually notified through a mandatory report by a psychologist from whom the victim had sought counseling.

Two parents who asked to remain anonymous and who both had daughters on Tatton's teams described his behavior as "manipulative," "calculating," "charming," and "glib." One parent said Tatton enjoyed "pushing the envelope" of risky behavior and said he drove his team members up and down the state for more than two years without a valid driver's license.

In 2007, Tatton was arrested for falsifying the registration sticker on his SUV after he allegedly photocopied a sticker and glued it to his license plate. The vehicle had allegedly gone unregistered for at least two years.

Three misdemeanor charges were dropped or dismissed after he completed a diversion program.

Tatton is scheduled to appear back in court Nov. 9 for arraignment, during which he will be read the charges against him and enter a plea.

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.