Abuse victim: ‘Nowhere left to hide’ for ex-Colfax coach
ROSEVILLE – Belden “Jack” Morgan entered the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, sitting in a chair facing the judge with his attorney beside him, as he waited to hear his fate – a sentence of 14 years in prison for four felony counts of child sex abuse.
The 72-year-old from Auburn never faced his victims Wednesday at Placer County Superior Court, his gaze never strayed from the front of the Dept. 44 courtroom, but he couldn’t escape the words of those he hurt.
Morgan had been arrested in February 2012 at his Christian Valley home on seven charges of committing lewd acts upon a child and entered a not guilty plea on all counts in June 2012.
Placer County Superior Court Judge Alan Pineschi accepted a plea agreement on March 1 for Morgan to plead no contest to four charges related to three victims younger than 14 from December 1994 to March 1998.
On Wednesday, the passionate statement from one of the victims and a mother explained how he betrayed their trust. Morgan coached snowboarding at Colfax High School until 2011 and finished his teaching career there in 2004.
“I never thought I would be here and put an end to all your lying,” one victim said in a statement, read through an advocate. “This is the first time I really feel like I can move on. … You have nowhere left to hide.”
The victim and the victim’s mother stood before the court as their words were read to Morgan, who remained seated to their front, near the right wall by the bailiff.
Morgan’s attorney, Steven Flinn, had a subdued demeanor throughout the proceedings and declined to make a statement after his client’s sentencing. Prosecutor Tracy Lunardi of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office said, “These were very brave (people) to come forward.”
The court ordered Morgan to register as a lifetime sex offender and to pay $24,763 in restitution to the victims.
Judge Jeffrey Penney sentenced Morgan on Wednesday, and he said Morgan is credited with 515 days served, including 448 actual days in jail awaiting trial. Factoring in those credits, he will be 85 years old at the end of his term.
The mother of one of the victims said they would never have agreed to the plea deal if they didn’t believe it would equate to a life sentence for Morgan, who she said made “the one thing I feared most” come true, according to her statement read by a victim advocate.
The mother said she checked Placer County Jail’s inmate roster daily, just for peace of mind.
She called her children “heroes” for coming forward and preventing more people from being victimized.
The victim who gave a statement through the advocate said that one of Morgan’s other victims refused to let what Morgan did to them define them.
“This is just one of the ways we have given each other strength through this,” the victim said.
Jon Schultz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews