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Tennis coach Norm Burgos loses appeal in Bay Area child sex abuse case

SAN FRANCISCO — Normandie Burgos, the Bay Area tennis coach who faced allegations of sexual abuse throughout his career, has lost the appeal of his child molestation conviction, court records show.

Burgos, 58, argued on appeal that his attorney, Michael Coffino, violated Burgos’ rights by conceding guilt on some of the charges in his opening statements to jurors. But the trial record shows that Judge Charles “Ben” Burch asked Burgos directly if he agreed with the strategy, and Burgos said he did.

“(Burch) explained that, in its view, while (Coffino) did not concede guilt expressly, the jury may have understood that Burgos was contesting only the charges that require force, and not the charges that do not require force,” the 12-page opinion by the First Appellate District Court of California says. It later adds, “Burgos confirmed he understood how the jury might have construed the opening statement, and he was not willing to concede guilt, ‘[b]ut I do agree with Coffino’s strategy.'”

The appeals court justices concluded, “But having told the trial court that he discussed and approved this strategy, Burgos cannot now argue otherwise.”

The appeals court did overturn six lesser-included charges out of the 60 Burgos was convicted of, noting that they addressed conduct for which Burgos had been convicted of more serious penal code violations. Those reversals are unlikely to make much of a difference to Burgos, as he was sentenced to 255 years to life at the end of his case.

Burgos’ tumultuous career included being tried twice — in 2006 and 2010 — on charges of sexually abusing tennis students while he taught at Tamalpais High School. In that case, he was accused of inappropriately touching teen boys during stretches, workouts, and massages. Burgos received an unusual amount of community support for an accused child molester during those trials, with one parent even publicly remarking that people in the Marin County area were smart enough to tell if he was an abuser.

Jurors were unable to reach verdicts in both trials, but the controversy cost Burgos his job at the high school. He went into private practice and continued to teach underage students, traveling to Richmond to give private lessons. It was there that prosecutors say he began sexually abusing two boys, using the threat of revoking tennis gear or favorable treatment to coerce them.

When the victims came forward years later, prosecutors equipped one of them with a hidden microphone and had him arrange a meeting with Burgos. In their conversation, the boy described sexual acts with Burgos and Burgos replied, “Yeah,” and later added “I let you do stuff to me that I don’t let anybody do to me.”

Contra Costa prosecutors charged Burgos with dozens of child molestation counts. During his trial in 2019, he testified that he only agreed with the boy because he felt intimidated by him and was raised to avoid conflict. He denied any sexual acts — consensual or not — ever occurred.

Burgos is serving his sentence at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, records show.

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