A former wrestling coach at a Sun Valley high school convicted of sex-related charges involving nine children was sentenced Tuesday to 71 years in state prison, prosecutors said.
Terry Terrell Gillard, 58, of Sylmar, was found guilty of 37 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor charges involving seven boys and two girls.
Jurors convicted him in May of three felony counts each of committing a lewd act on a child, committing a lewd act on a child 14 or 15 and oral copulation of a person under 18, along with 28 felony counts of procuring a child to engage in a lewd act. He also was convicted of 10 misdemeanor counts of child molestation.
Gillard met his victims through his role as a wrestling coach at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School, where he was also a campus aide, and his work at the Boys and Girls Club, prosecutors said.
A young female wrestler told the court at Gillard’s sentencing of the agony she felt seeing her abuser again.
“I’ve been struggling to learn how to live without the constant dread of seeing you again,” she said. “I’m disgusted with myself because of how I foolishly trusted you.”
Another of Gillard’s victims said he had been lured with the promises of wrestling wins.
“I knew something was wrong, and the day the event happened in the back of the Mitsubishi, it was shocking,” he said. “You always told me I was the only one who could be trusted. I could never snitch.”
During the trial, jurors heard testimony that Gillard sexually abused young wrestlers as far back as 1991, when he directed an 11-year-old boy to have sex with a woman in the backseat of the coach’s Cadillac while he watched. He then also engaged in a sex act with the minor, according to prosecutors.
More recently, Gillard directed young wrestlers between 2014 and 2017 to engage in sexual acts while he watched in his vehicles or in a van owned and maintained by the Boys and Girls Club, according to court records.
The victims were between the ages of 11 and 17 at the time of the offenses, Deputy Dist. Atty. Cathy Lee said.
Three of the victims have sued the former coach, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando, alleging that the institutions had prior knowledge of Gillard’s misconduct and should have removed him from having contact with children.
City News Service contributed to this report.