Former AUSD basketball coach sentenced to jail in sexual abuse of a minor case

Former Mark Keppel High School basketball coach Joseph Alan Kikuchi was sentenced to five years in jail on Thursday at the Alhambra Court House, after pleading no contest to 23 counts of sexual abuse of a minor last month.

The sentence stems from a sexual relationship that Kikuchi had with a Mark Keppel student who played on his basketball team in 2015. Police arrested him in September of that year, and the school's principal and assistant principal were placed on administrative leave.

During the sentencing hearing, LA County deputy district attorney Rena Durrant discused various factors that warranted Kikuchi getting a sentence close to the 19 year and 4 months maximum, including the fact that Kikuchi was 40 years older than the minor student, that he was in a position of authority over her and that he used this position to groom her for a sexual relationship, and that he used psychological manipulation and verbal abuse to keep her in the relationship, when she tried to end it. Durrant read from some text messages that Kikuchi sent to the victim to underscore this last point.

She also read a letter from the victim's father, who described the depression, humiliation and anxiety that he, his daughter and the rest of their family felt because of this ordeal.

Various community members read statements on behalf of Kikuchi, portraying him as a pillar of the community who would do anything for his wife and children, and who had coached many young people to success over the years. Various friends mentioned that Kikuchi had turned to religion and volunteering on Skid Row after he was charged, recommending that he be sentenced to probation as a result.

Judge Jared Moses described deciding on a sentence as a difficult task in reconciling the two portraits of Kikuchi that had emerged in the hearing. "We can't minimize it," he said of the crime Kikuchi committed, despite the positive impact he had made in other people's lives, and handed down the five-year sentence.

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