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[whitespace] Lafferty hit with additional charge

Case now includes four victims, seven sex crime charges

Campbell--The District Attorney's office filed an additional charge against former Westmont High School girls' softball coach Todd Lafferty on Oct. 27, bringing the number of alleged victims up to four.

Deputy District Attorney Chuck Gillingham charged Lafferty with another count of digital penetration with a minor following the discovery of an alleged fourth victim. Lafferty now faces seven charges involving sexual acts with minors between 1996 and 2000.

Lafferty has yet to enter a plea, though he has appeared in court several times. His attorney, Steven Manchester, unsuccessfully filed a motion on Oct. 12 to reduce his client's $1 million bail. Lafferty appeared in court again on Oct. 19, but a plea was delayed because of new evidence uncovered by the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department suggesting a possible fourth victim. He is expected to return to court on Nov. 16.

The new charge dates back to a relationship Lafferty allegedly began in 1995 with a 17-year-old softball player at Westmont High School. The relationship, which started when Lafferty was 21 years old, lasted for several years.

Lafferty, a Campbell resident, was arrested on Sept. 25 in his Union Avenue apartment after a seven-month investigation by the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department. He was arraigned on Sept. 26, on charges of unlawful sexual intercourse and oral copulation with a minor. The alleged victim was a 16-year-old Los Gatos High School student; however, she did not play on the school's softball team during the 1998-1999 season Lafferty coached.

On Oct. 2, the district attorney's office proceeded with four more charges based on the reports of two new victims. Both girls were 15 years old at the time, one a Los Gatos High School student and member of the softball team, the other a Westmont High School student Lafferty allegedly met over the Internet. The additional charges included two counts of digital penetration, one of oral copulation and one of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.

The arrest and accusations came as a total shock to many of Lafferty's players and friends, who describe him as a caring, "older brother" figure.

A father of one of the alleged victims has taken issue over people leaping to Lafferty's defense. "Because your daughter wasn't one of the victims doesn't mean he didn't do it," the father said. "You're one of the lucky ones."

The father said he had invited Lafferty to dinner at his home on numerous occasions, and was ready to send him a letter of support when the arrest first occurred. It was at that point his daughter came forward with her own story.

"I loathe that person for taking a young girl's trust--a family's trust--and stomping on it," he said.
Nathan R. Huff

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Web extra to the November 9-15, 2000 issue of Metro.

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