A Santa Maria-area soccer coach accused of kissing one of his players last year pleaded guilty to the charges and will be sentenced to 270 days in County Jail, plus five years of probation, with a requirement that he register as a sex offender.
Francisco Javier Hernandez Sanabria, 35, a former coach at Coastal Valley Soccer Club and former walk-on soccer coach at the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of annoying/molesting a child under the age of 18 and, also, pleaded guilty to a newly added count of contacting a minor with the specific intent to commit sexual penetration of a child under the age of 18.
Sanabria also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life with a local law enforcement agency in the county of his residency.
He will return to court April 4 for his sentencing.
The Santa Maria Police arrested Sanabria in May 2017 for annoying a minor and soliciting lewd pictures from his cell phone. He was charged by the District Attorney’s Office in June with lewd acts upon a child, identified only as Jane Doe. Doe was 15 at the time of the crimes, which reportedly occurred in May 2016.
At the time he was arrested, Sanabria was already serving a three-year probation term starting on January 17, 2017 for a prior misdemeanor charge –battery against a sports official — in July 2016.
Following his October 2017 preliminary hearing in front of Judge Jed Beebe, Sanabria was ordered to stand trial for his new criminal case. According to testimony, Sanabria had two prior incidents with two teens, aged 13 and 16, where he’d text one of them, calling her “cute” and that he’d “love it if she came to his practices.”
Santa Maria Police testified that when they interviewed Doe, who was one of his players, in April 2017, she told detectives that she and Sanabria began texting each other just a year prior, when she was 14.
What started off as casual texting gradually changed, police testified, stating that Doe told police that Sanabria began asking for pictures of her, asked her to sneak out of her parents’ house while they were away, or offer to pick her up.
Doe admitted to police she sent Sanabria about 10 photos of her only in a sports bra and spandex. During one phone call between the teen and the defendant, she said she worried word of their relationship would get out, and that her mom had begun questioning her, according to testimony.
Sanabria reportedly instructed Doe to deny any questions her parents asked, police testified. However, according to testimony, Doe finally told one of her friends that she and Sanabria kissed outside the Edwards Community Center near Pioneer Valley High School, after the two made a bet over a soccer game.
When police later contacted Sanabria and questioned him about the allegations, Sanabria admitted to detectives that “things got out of hand” and that “it was a mistake.” The relationship reportedly ended in August 2016, after Sanabria told Doe that he already had a girlfriend.
It was also revealed during the preliminary hearing that no text messages between Doe and Sanabria were ever saved or recovered.
Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210