LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The California Supreme Court today declined to review a former Southland high school wrestling coach's conviction on sex- related charges involving nine children.
Terry Terrell Gillard of Sylmar is serving a 71-year prison sentence for his 2019 conviction on three felony counts each of committing a lewd act on a child, committing a lewd act on a child 14 or 15 and oral copulation of a person under 18, along with 28 felony counts of procuring a child to engage in a lewd act and 10 misdemeanor counts of child molestation.
The charges involved seven boys and two girls between the ages of 11 and 17 whom he met through the wrestling teams at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley and the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando between 1991 and 2017.
In February, a three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that it was ``satisfied'' that Gillard ``received a trial that was fair and comported with due process.'' The panel noted in its 39-page ruling that jurors heard testimony that Gillard directed young teenagers to perform sexual acts while he watched and routinely groped the two girls.
Some of the victims spoke during his October 2019 sentencing.
``Once you gained our trust, you took advantage of us,'' one of them said. ``You sexually exploited us. You did so and have never shown any remorse for it.''
Outside court after the sentencing, attorneys representing most of the victims lauded the lengthy prison sentence for Gillard.
Attorney Ronald Labriola said the sentence ``reflects both the harm and the pain that was caused to the victims of Mr. Gillard's abuse'' and the ``length of time over which Mr. Gillard abused these victims -- many years, many locations, on campus, off-campus, in cars and other locations.''
He called the victims ``the real heroes in this story.''
``Mr. Gillard was arrested because of the courage and the bravery of these young victims, young high school students, some as young as in their freshman year,'' Labriola added.
The LAUSD issued a statement at the time saying, ``Terry Gillard was placed on leave on June 9, 2017, and separated from Los Angeles Unified on June 22, 2017. Our thoughts are with the students and families affected by this situation. We remain vigilant in providing a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students.''