A judge convicted Joseph Kikuchi, a former Alhambra basketball coach, of sexually abusing a female high school player in his tutelage last month.

failure to report abuse

Kikuchi, 57, entered a no contest plea to the 23 counts of sexual abuse of a minor levied against him. While a no contest plea is technically not an admission of guilt for commission of the crimes, Kikuchi did not reach any settlement agreement with prosecutors. With the open plea, he will skip the trial process and face February sentencing by a court who will treat the plea as guilty. Kikuchi faces a maximum of 19 years, 4 months in prison and lifelong registration as a sex offender.

Kikuchi’s 23 counts of sexual abuse of a minor include 12 felony counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, five felony counts of committing a lewd act upon a child, one felony count of oral copulation of a person under 16, and five misdemeanor counts of child molesting.

Police arrested the former basketball coach back in September 2015 with the accusation of unlawful sexual contact of a minor during the 2015-2015 school year. Charges were initially filed against him in October 2015, but the trial underwent several delays at the request of Kikuchi and his attorney.

Before Kikuchi’s bail hearing and subsequent court process, the local community held him in high regard and esteem. The court received dozens of letters of support and community members attended his arraignment and bail review in order to support Kikuchi. The arrest stunned many in the community, Kikuchi’s lawyer denied all allegations at the time, and those who knew him wrote of his character and time spent in and of the community.

52,000 Text Messages Between coach and Victim

However, during Kikuchi’s 2015 bail review and November 2016 preliminary hearing prosecutors presented the court with tens of thousands of damning text messages between Kikuchi and the victim. During both hearings, lead prosecutor Rena Durrant read aloud a series of descriptive and threatening texts. She later told the judge she doubted half the community showing support would have done so knowing what Kikuchi had texted the victim.

For instance, in one message sent after the victim tried to break off the relationship Kikuchi threatened to pull her from her team position. “Don’t piss me off. If you do this, I will move up other girls,” the text read according to Durrant.

In another text message exchange, the victim writes, “if I say stop please stop, ok. I know it’s love but still.” Kikuchi allegedly replied, “ok. But don’t say stop because I won’t all the time.”

Investigators recovered the text messages after the victim deleted them. If you or someone you know are victims of sexual abuse, it’s important to know text and email messages between victim and perpetrator serve as strong evidence in a criminal trial. Even if deleted, investigators can retrieve messages from internal storage and servers for use in criminal proceedings.


After a decade of scandals, Oakland’s police force hopes for much-needed reform with new chief Anne Kirkpatrick. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf introduced Kirkpatrick during a January news conference. She described her as “the reform-minded leader that Oakland has been searching for.”

CULTURE OF CRIME

Oakland’s police department has cycled through chiefs since the disturbing 2003 civil rights settlement over four officers’ alleged beatings, falsified reports, and evidence planting. Things appeared to be an upswing in recent years, until the discovery of a major sexual misconduct scandal in June 2016.

This scandal began when 19-year-old Jasmine Abuslim told news agencies of sexual encounters she had had with dozens of officers across local law enforcement agencies. Four Oakland police officers have since been criminally charged because of those encounters, and another three face charges of failing to report their abuse. Former police chief Sean Whent resigned and two interim chiefs were appointed and dismissed within days.

Angered by the gross misconduct, Schaaf famously rebuked the department in a follow-up press conference. “I am here to run a police department, not a frat house.”

BOTH AN OUTSIDER & INSIDER

Oakland leaders chose Kirkpatrick to clean up the force thanks in large part to her history as a reformer. In her tenure as a Chicago officer, she led the department’s Bureau of Professional Standards. This newer group began as part of the city-wide reform effort following the controversial shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Video of the incident sparked national outrage as it showed McDonald shot and killed while walking away from officers.

In addition to her work in Chicago, Kirkpatrick served as police chief for three departments in Washington state — Ellensburg, Federal Way, and Spokane. More recently she served as a leadership instructor for the FBI. Her appointment in Oakland adds to the unique cast of female Oakland city leaders as the mayor, city administrator, and fire chief positions are all currently held by women.

Reporters asked Kirkpatrick how her history and Chicago reform efforts will affect her work in Oakland. She replied, “Reform is where we have policies and procedures and we direct behavior. I am more interested in transformation. It’s transformation I have a real heart for. Reform is part of transformation.”


The death of Gabriel Fernandez continues to have far-reaching implications as nine deputies were internally disciplined as a result of failing to properly investigate allegations of abuse.

Gabriel was abused and tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend despite more than sixty complaints by relatives and teachers. An autopsy revealed injuries that included a cracked skull, broken ribs, burns, bruises, abrasions, and missing teeth. Pellets from a BB gun were found embedded in his skin.

Complaints of abuse were filed over a period of ten years before Gabriel’s death, prompting eight separate investigations and multiple interactions with police. In some cases, only a phone call was conducted and no contact with Gabriel occurred.

Gabriel’s grandparents filed a wrongful death lawsuit after his death. They raised Gabriel for most of his life. Seven months before his death, Gabriel’s mother took back custody despite having legally transferred guardianship of the child to her parents. Tragically, deputies allegedly ignored their pleas to keep Gabriel in their custody. Gabriel died seven months after being removed from their home.

Deputies also failed to properly investigate when Gabriel’s teacher reported abuse, after he expressed a desire to commit suicide to a counselor, after allegations of sexual abuse were reported, and after a county worker reported seeing Gabriel covered in bruises and burns. The latest chance for deputies to save Gabriel’s life came just a week before he died after school officials reported his absence from school and concerns for his safety.

Four social workers faced criminal charges after the death and some were prevented from further social work by the suspension of their license. All four faced one charge each of child abuse and falsifying records. They were arraigned in July 2016.

While no criminal charges were filed against police deputies, they did face internal disciplinary actions as a result of Gabriel’s death. The extent of the disciplinary actions has not been reported due to privacy laws.


A formal review board cleared Judge Aaron Persky, the Santa Clara judge who ruled in the Brock Turner case, of judicial misconduct in December. Persky’s sentencing of the former Stanford swimmer to just six months in jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman embroiled him in an onslaught of social criticism and controversy. While the California Commission cleared the judge, this and his previous rulings in sexual assault cases continue to draw ire.

college abuse

In their 12-page report, the commission defended Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing saying it was within the “parameters set by law and was therefore within the judge’s discretion.”

The Brock Turner Case

Over one million people called for the investigation and ultimate removal of Judge Persky after the Turner ruling. Jurors convicted Turner, 21, on three felony counts: intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person. He faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison but received six months in jail. He served just three months before his release in September.

In addition to this jail time, Persky sentenced Turner to three years’ probation and required registration as a sex offender. During sentencing, Persky opined that Turner was not a danger to others. He commented that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance reviewed this and four other Persky cases. They concluded, “that there is not clear and convincing evidence of bias, abuse of authority, or other basis to conclude that Judge Persky engaged in judicial misconduct warranting discipline.”

The Public Fires Back

His fiercest critics disagree. “We believe that the record is completely clear that Judge Persky has a long record of failing to take violence against women seriously, and we will demonstrate when we launch the campaign early next year,” said Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber. “We believe that voters support the recall and replace Persky.”

In fact, the people have already moved to prevent a repeat of such a ruling. In 2016, California lawmakers expanded the definition of rape and increased penalties for offenders who assault unconscious victims. Potential jurors refused to work with Judge Persky and prosecutors removed him from a similar sexual assault case. In September, Persky requested a move from criminal cases altogether and now presides over San Jose civil cases.

So regardless of the review’s report, it is clear the public found more than enough evidence of judicial misconduct. As such, they are issuing their own forms of discipline.


A new investigative report by The Indianapolis Star revealed even more abuse by USA gymnastics affiliated personnel. The report gave details on at least 368 gymnasts alleged sexual assault or exploitation by USA Gymnastics coaches as well as other adults. Most noteworthy, the reported abuse occurred over the course of two decades with little to no intervention by officials.

sexual abuse

Released mid-December, the report is the product of a nine-month investigation by the newspaper. It comes as a result of an earlier August report detailing how the national organization’s leaders failed to alert the appropriate authorities following sexual abuse accusations against coaches.

USA Gymnastics was quick to respond to the allegations against their organization. They countered with an emphasis on internal policies that run opposite of those findings. Because such policies “mandate that when anyone affiliated with USA Gymnastics or member clubs suspect potential abuse, the appropriate legal authorities should be notified.”

Hundreds of Sexual Abuse Allegations

Research by the newspaper’s investigators uncovered hundreds of damning police and court documents in addition to testimony by former gymnasts. Those documents revealed systematic and widespread abuse across the country:

“At least 368 gymnasts have alleged some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their coaches, gym owners and other adults working in gymnastics. That’s a rate of one every 20 days. And it’s likely an undercount. …

“All told, 115 adults at every level of the sport, from respected Olympic mentors to novices working with recreational gymnasts, were accused. The alleged abuse happened in every part of the U.S. — from Maine to California, Washington to Florida, and across the Midwest. …

“Other victims included casual athletes and elite-level performers such as Olympians. They were teenagers and preteens. The youngest was 6. Almost all of them were girls.”

USA Gymnastics Response

In a response statement by Paul Parilla, chairman of the USA Gymnastics board of directors, the organization emphasized their commitment to protecting young athletes. Claims that appear to run opposite of the findings. “Addressing instances of sexual misconduct has been a top priority for USA Gymnastics for years, and we are wholly committed to promoting a safe environment for athletes. We work every day to strengthen our processes, policies, and procedures in this critical area.”

Yet such assurances appear too little, too late. This latest report comes after a series of filed lawsuits against doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar was a former long time, 20+ years, doctor for the organization, alleging sexual assault. A lawsuit bolstered by the unveiling of a Go Pro containing video of Nassar allegedly molesting girls in a pool. This is in addition to other instances of child porn.

USA Gymnastics does appear to be taking some of these issues to heart. They are calling on former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels to lead an independent review. The goal of the review is to improve and strengthen the governing body’s policies and procedures on safety. A separate review panel will then review the results and implement the recommendations and policy changes as needed.