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Former basketball coach denies sexual assault allegations through lawyer

Joseph Kikuchi, 56, a former basketball coach at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, was charged Thursday with multiple counts of sexual abuse against a minor.

Joseph Kikuchi, 56, a former basketball coach at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, was charged Thursday with multiple counts of sexual abuse against a minor.

(Alhambra Police Department)

A lawyer for former Mark Keppel High School basketball coach Joseph Alan Kikuchi is denying allegations that Kikuchi sexually assaulted a 16-year-old on his team multiple times in the last year.

Alhambra police arrested Kikuchi, 56, on Thursday morning on multiple felony counts of sexual assault, including lewd or lascivious acts against a minor. Kikuchi was released on $100,000 bail close to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Kikuchi resigned as coach at the school in Alhambra on Sept. 15 because of a heart condition, Kikuchi’s lawyer Paul Geller, a Pasadena criminal defender, said in an emailed statement to the Los Angeles Times. The statement accused the police of ignoring his client’s health. Geller would not elaborate on what that condition was in a phone interview.

“I had reached out to the police about a week before because they had served a search warrant at [Kikuchi’s] house,” Geller said in an interview. He said police never responded to a voicemail he left “in order to cooperate and be mindful of Mr. Kikuchi’s health.”

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Alhambra Police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said Thursday that the investigation was triggered on Sept. 15 when an administrator called the police upon hearing rumors of Kikuchi’s involvement with a student.

"[L]aw enforcement chose to ignore those requests and to publicly embarrass Mr. Kikuchi, jeopardize his health, and sensationalize these allegations by surprising him at his employment yesterday to arrest him in front of his coworkers and colleagues, and from publicly misleading statements,” Geller’s statement continued.

Kikuchi was arrested while working for Chiquita Banana, Geller said in a phone call. He would not elaborate on the nature of Kikuchi’s job. (A LinkedIn account held by the name “Joe Kikuchi” describes him as a branch manager for the company.)

“We are deeply concerned about the way in which both the students, Mr. Kikuchi, and the public are being forced to deal with this at the direction of law enforcement,” Geller wrote. “The principal and vice principal of the school have also been placed on administrative leave, which is something unusual that we want to investigate while this process takes place.”

The Pasadena Star-News reported Wednesday that Kikuchi was being investigated.

Geller added that Kikuchi would not be speaking to the media at all.

Police and representatives in the school district have not responded to requests for comment.

Anyone who has knowledge about these incidents or other incidents involving Kikuchi should contact Alhambra police at 626-570-5156 or detective1@alhambrapd.org.

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Reach Sonali Kohli on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli or by email at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com.


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