Infante found guilty Former local gymnastics coach gets 8-10 years
Former local gymnastics coach gets 8-10 years
After deliberating more than two days, a Middlesex (Mass.) County jury found former Brookfield gymnastics coach Steve Infante guilty of child rape and molestation charges Wednesday.
Mr. Infante's three-week trial centered on two alleged victims, a Massachusetts woman who claimed Infante started a sexual relationship with her when she was 14 and a Connecticut woman who alleged Infante made sexual advances when she was 16.
The jury took six hours over two days to convict Mr. Infante, 54, a New Milford resident, on three counts of child rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.
Previous court reports had incorrectly stated Mr. Infante was now a Milford resident.
The judged also ordered five years of probation following prison time, with the conditions that Infante have no direct or indirect contact with any witnesses, that he have no contact with any person under the age of 18, and that he register as a sex offender, the Middlesex DA's office reported.
"This defendant took advantage of his position as a coach and mentor to these victims, violating the trust of these young girls and their parents," Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said Wednesday, "by engaging in a pattern of inappropriate, prurient behavior and grooming in order to force these vulnerable victims into submitting to sexual assault."
Judge Leone thanked the jury for its verdict and "the courageous victims for coming forward."
According to authorities, Mr. Infante coached gymnastics in Massachusetts and Connecticut and was the president of the Five Star Gymnastics Overnight Camp held in Springfield, Mass. He is also the former owner of Olympia Gymnastics in Brookfield.
Referring to the Massachusetts victim as Victim A, Judge Leone said Mr. Infante began "a pattern of grooming" her when she was 13, and also other victims, "to become more comfortable with his approaches and excessive physical contact."
This grooming included "gifts, alcohol, excessive flirtatious actions, sexual innuendo and inappropriate touching... as part of camp rituals," the judge said.
Victim A was 14 and Mr. Infante was 35 the first time he "forced himself on her sexually," Judge Leone claimed.
The charged crimes against Victim A allegedly occurred between the fall of 1992 and the fall of 1994, when Mr. Infante repeatedly raped her, Judge Leone said.
A second victim, a then 16-year-old gymnast who was coached by Mr. Infante in Connecticut, was also sexually assaulted by her coach while she was attending a camp sleepover in Massachusetts in 1993, Judge Leone said.
Attempts to contact Mr. Infante's attorney, Kenneth Mello, for comment were unsuccessful.
The case was prosecuted by Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Thomas O'Reilly. It was investigated by the Acton Police Department and Massachusetts state police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney's Office.