Coach molests 3 girls, sentenced to 1 year of work furlough

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School athletic coaches have the potential to reach the youngsters placed in their charge as few other authority figures can. Embodying the quest for excellence, getting behind a student's aspirations for competition and improvement, a coach can sometimes turn around a life headed in the wrong direction.

Richmond, California's Coach Carter, celebrated in a movie of the same name starring Samuel L. Jackson is one such shining example. At the college level, Coach Joe Paterno of Penn State is another. Most great coaches never receive appreciation beyond their home communities, but they make a difference in the lives of their charges.

But there is a downside. At the very bottom are those few coaches who exploit those entrusted to them for sexual gratification. Molestation of an underage child is always a serious crime. But when the authority and trust of a coach is used to exploit a child, an even worse crime has been committed.

All of which makes it very hard to understand why, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon today sentenced a coach—molester to a mere one year in a work furlough program, enabling that coach continue working at her job while supposedly paying her debt to society. One year of evenings and weekends!

The coach in question has some connections. Tanda Rucker is the 32—year—old daughter of former Berkeley City Manager Weldon Rucker. She was a former star at Berkeley High School and was was a member of Stanford's 1992 NCAA champion team.

Rucker could have gotten 14 years in state prison for the 18 felony counts of penetration with a foreign object and oral copulation with minors to which she pleaded guilty. Two of her victims were girls she coached at Encinal High School in the city of Alameda. A third victim was met outside of her job.

The parents of the two girls who were molested while being coached have filed suit, claiming that Rucker was a predator who pressured them into lesbian affairs. It may turn out that the taxpayers of Alameda pay a bigger penalty than the disgraced coach.

Thomas Lifson   2 15 06

School athletic coaches have the potential to reach the youngsters placed in their charge as few other authority figures can. Embodying the quest for excellence, getting behind a student's aspirations for competition and improvement, a coach can sometimes turn around a life headed in the wrong direction.

Richmond, California's Coach Carter, celebrated in a movie of the same name starring Samuel L. Jackson is one such shining example. At the college level, Coach Joe Paterno of Penn State is another. Most great coaches never receive appreciation beyond their home communities, but they make a difference in the lives of their charges.

But there is a downside. At the very bottom are those few coaches who exploit those entrusted to them for sexual gratification. Molestation of an underage child is always a serious crime. But when the authority and trust of a coach is used to exploit a child, an even worse crime has been committed.

All of which makes it very hard to understand why, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon today sentenced a coach—molester to a mere one year in a work furlough program, enabling that coach continue working at her job while supposedly paying her debt to society. One year of evenings and weekends!

The coach in question has some connections. Tanda Rucker is the 32—year—old daughter of former Berkeley City Manager Weldon Rucker. She was a former star at Berkeley High School and was was a member of Stanford's 1992 NCAA champion team.

Rucker could have gotten 14 years in state prison for the 18 felony counts of penetration with a foreign object and oral copulation with minors to which she pleaded guilty. Two of her victims were girls she coached at Encinal High School in the city of Alameda. A third victim was met outside of her job.

The parents of the two girls who were molested while being coached have filed suit, claiming that Rucker was a predator who pressured them into lesbian affairs. It may turn out that the taxpayers of Alameda pay a bigger penalty than the disgraced coach.

Thomas Lifson   2 15 06