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Sentencing of Child Molester Delayed : Concerned Parents Tell of Youngsters’ Suffering, Call for Maximum Sentence

Times Staff Writer

A judge listened patiently Tuesday while a dozen parents of young molestation victims of Alan Thomas Rigby pleaded that the former private school teacher and coach be given the maximum possible sentence for the psychological damage their children have suffered.

But to their disappointment, Superior Court Judge Myron S. Brown postponed Rigby’s sentencing for 90 days and ordered the defendant to undergo a diagnostic study at the state prison at Chino.

“Alan Rigby has robbed my son of the most precious thing a child can have--the innocence of childhood,” the father of one 11-year-old told the court.

Rigby, 41, pleaded guilty in November to 36 counts of child molestation in a tentative plea agreement with Brown that he would receive a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison. Rigby could have faced nearly 80 years in prison, but prosecutors were pleased with the guilty plea and the 20-year maximum because it would spare the victims having to testify at a trial.

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Rigby, who was free on $200,000 bail, was taken into custody Tuesday in a Santa Ana courtroom on Brown’s order. Sentencing was set for April 11.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Lew R. Rosenblum had told the parents that the sentencing would take place Tuesday. When it did not, he told them afterward: “Please don’t leave feeling too critical. It’s a very important decision, and the judge just wants to be confident in his own mind whatever sentence he gives him (Rigby) will be a just sentence.”

Most of the 19 victims listed in the charges attended Harbor Day School, a private grade school in Corona del Mar where Rigby taught for about a year before his arrest in October, 1987. Rigby was the track coach there as well as a physical education teacher. Before that, he had been a track coach at UCLA.

The victims were mainly fifth- and sixth-grade students ages 11 to 12. Rigby has since been fired.

Before joining Harbor Day School, he had been arrested in 1979 on suspicion of child molestation in Irvine and was placed on probation after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of disturbing the peace. He had been arrested in New York City before that on suspicion of child molestation, but he reportedly told the Irvine police that it was “horseplay” and that the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor alcohol violation.

Although numerous boys had complained about him to the Newport Beach police, it was two parents of two young girls who turned him in to the police after he exposed himself to their daughters at his Irvine home.

One of those parents told Brown on Tuesday that his daughter has been seriously affected by the incident. “I can’t describe the hurt,” he said.

One after another, the parents paraded to the microphone to tell about the pain they’ve gone through with their children because of Rigby’s molestations.

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One woman said she is racked with guilt because her son dropped hints to her that something was wrong, and she did not pick up on them.

As she spoke, Rigby sat at his counsel’s table and thumbed through a kind of report.

“He sits there and has the arrogance to not even cry, or be tearful at what he has done,” the woman said.

The father of one 12-year-old boy told the judge: “Our son obeyed his teacher; he trusted him; the outcome was, he was lied to. He was tricked. He was confused, and finally he was sexually molested. No child should ever be treated in this manner--especially by a schoolteacher.”

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One single-parent mother said her 11-year-old son had looked to Rigby as a role model. “My son admired him and respected him. . . . Now, he has a hard time dealing with adult males and his lack of trust has become evident.”

Several parents told the judge that they prefer a longer sentence for Rigby than 20 years but understand the importance of sparing their children having to testify at a trial.

The children did testify at a preliminary hearing, where they said Rigby either fondled them, showed them pornographic movies or performed sexual acts in front of them.

Rigby has denied that he engaged in sex acts with any of the children.

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The final witness Tuesday was Lavonne Campbell, an investigator for the Newport Beach Police Department. She said that when police searched Rigby’s home, they found a copy of NAMBLA, which stands for North American Man/Boy Lovers Assn. She later said it is a glossy magazine with explicit sexual photographs involving children, and is known to be traded among pedophiles.

“We hear about the magazine, but it’s rare to find anyone who actually has a copy,” Campbell said.


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