Swimming pool underwater
Underwater view of a pool. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

An attorney representing a 23-year-old former swim coach at Orange County’s University High School Tuesday noted that a teenage girl he was recently charged with sexually assaulting will turn 18 at the end of next month.

Coleman Michael Pickell of Irvine pleaded not guilty Monday to assaulting the 17-year-old girl.

“The alleged victim in this case turns 18 years old at the end of this coming January,” said attorney Matthew B. Wallin. “According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the allegations in this case occurred a few months shy of her 18th birthday.”

Wallin added, “The allegations are that (the victim) willfully consented to any sexual conduct that may have occurred.”

The attorney disputed reports that the defendant met the alleged victim “in his capacity as a coach at University High School.”

The defense attorney said the charges against his client, “while serious in nature, are among the least serious sex offense charges in California due to the very close age difference between our client and the alleged victim.”

Pickell was also a “walk-on” men’s water polo coach at the school, according to Irvine police.

After Pickell was arrested in October, Irvine Unified School District officials said he was no longer a coach or had any contact with students at the school or throughout the district.

Pickell met the alleged victim during the summer of last year, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He allegedly took the teen to a hotel room Oct. 8, prosecutors said. When her parents found her at the hotel the next morning they called police, prosecutors said.

Pickell was charged with three counts of statutory rape, two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object of a minor and a count of oral copulation of a minor, all felonies. If convicted at trial, he could face up to six years and four months in prison.

–City News Service 

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