Former coach will face charges next week

A former assistant volleyball coach is scheduled to appear in court next week to face charges that he used a cellphone to take photos up a woman's skirt at the Glendale Galleria, police said.

John Puncel, 50, of Sylmar, turned himself in to Glendale police on Oct. 15 after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with the Jan. 30 incident, Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Puncel faces one felony count of possessing child pornography, three misdemeanor counts related to the skirt incident as well as a misdemeanor count of battery on a Glendale police officer, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court complaint.

He pleaded not guilty last week to the charges and is next due in court on Nov. 1, officials said.

Puncel — who worked as an assistant women's volleyball coach in 2005 at Pasadena City College — was taken into custody earlier this year after police said they saw him secretly recording under a woman's skirt at the mall.

Police said Puncel was standing against a wall on the mall's first level and holding a cellphone in one hand as he watched people go up the escalators.

He was standing in an area where police said they have previously arrested men using cellphones to secretly record up women's skirts.

Police said they saw Puncel step onto the escalator, stand a few steps away from a woman wearing a knee-high skirt and hold his phone under her skirt. The woman wasn't aware of Puncel's actions, police said.

As officers tried to detain Puncel, he pulled away in an attempt to keep his phone away from them, police said, causing one of the officers to suffer a cut and bruises under his left arm.

Puncel's cellphone camera showed his fingers, then the woman's legs and buttocks, according to police reports.

Police detectives obtained warrants to search Puncel's home after he was arrested, Lorenz said.

Detectives seized Puncel's computer and electronic devices, where they said they discovered hundreds of photographs — some of which included partially nude minors and others who were engaged in sexual acts with adults.

Puncel, who was convicted of burglary in 2002, remained jailed as of Tuesday in lieu of $170,000 bail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department booking records.

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