Ex-Youth Soccer Coach Sentenced to Life in Prison For Child Molestation

During a span of nearly 17 years, he molested 14 boys, six of whom were soccer players he coached, and a young girl

By Patrick Healy
|  Saturday, Apr 19, 2014  |  Updated 2:01 AM PDT
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An ex-youth soccer coach was sentenced to more than 130 years in prison for molesting 15 children. Patrick Healy reports from Lancaster for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 18, 2014.

Patrick Healy/Beth Slepp-Paz

An ex-youth soccer coach was sentenced to more than 130 years in prison for molesting 15 children. Patrick Healy reports from Lancaster for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 18, 2014.

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A former youth soccer coach was sentenced to 130 years to life in prison Friday for molesting more than a dozen children.

Victimized families spoke out in court about abuse they suffered at the hands of the Renoir Vincent Valenti, who worked as a Caltrans mechanic and American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) coach in the Antelope Valley communities of Lancaster and Quartz Hill..

"Mr. Valenti, your sole purpose was to destroy lives," said the mother of one  victim during the sentencing.

In February,  Valenti was convicted of molesting 14 boys, six of whom were soccer players he coached, over a period dating back two decades. Another count involved Valenti having relations with a girl who later became his wife at age 15.

During a 35-day jury trial, 58 witnesses testified, including all of his victims.

"My son never used to be afraid of the dark. He never used to have nightmares," said another mother who offered a victim witness statement to the court.

"I will no longer have any trust in anybody, in any male, because of what he's done,"  said a victim identified in court as Tommy, now in his 20s.

Also addressing the court was Garrett, whom Valenti had repeatedly molested over a period that extended a decade.

"It's caused a lot of problems, finding and accepting myself," Garrett said.

When Valenti was offered the opportunity to address the court, he offered no apology to the victims and their families and instead  attacked the trial.

"My trial in this courtroom was no less than a travesty of justice," Valenti said in court.

The judge cut him off.

"Valenti has failed to show any remorse," said prosecutor Jon Hatami. 

Later, a woman who identified herself as Valenti's sister Donna Haylock stood up to offer a family apology.  

"I just want to say I'm very sorry for what you all have been through," said Haylock, speaking to the victims and families in the Lancaster courtroom.

Haylock had no knowledge of her brother's crimes, she said, nor what put him down that path.  "It's not how he was raised."

Valenti moved from Belize to California with his family while a teenager in the 1970s.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department first investigatored Valenti in 2003 after a complaint from a relative, who later recanted.  The investigation that led to this prosecution began in 2012, after a neighbor of Valenti in the Lancaster apartment building where he lived told authorities hemolested her son.

"He was able to ingratiate himself with a lot of different families," observed Detective Susan Velazquez of the Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau after the sentencing.  "People want to be trusting, and he didn't come across as what you would say is a child molestor.  He came across as just a nice, smart man."

After Valenti was arrested in 2012, authorities heard from other victims from yaers past who had never previously come forward.

Though much of the victim witness statements focused on pain and suffering, there was also a recurring theme of recovery, of moving forward, while Valenti faces the rest of his life in state prison.

"You will face fear and hopelessness,"  one victim's mother told Valenti.

"You will not long be able to go to the soccer field and pretend you care," wrote another victim's mother, whose statement was read in court by the prosecutor.  "After today, you will no longer exist for us."

"This day, these boys are set free," Judge Daviann L. Mitchell told Valenti before imposing the sentence.  "Because they know you can never harm them and any other children." 

Mitchell also told Valenti, "You have shattered the trust of many to satisfy your own perversions."

Valenti's complex sentence includes eight consecutive terms of 15 years to life, plus an additonal 10 years and eight months.

Moments after he heard the arithmetic, he was led away in shackles.

Valenti is expected to appeal his conviction.

NBC4's Christina Cocca contributed to this report.

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