A former softball coach in Temecula pleaded guilty today to molesting three teenaged girls.
Alex Flores, 40, admitted to committing lewd acts with at least three girls younger than 14 years and giving liquor to a minor.
He was scheduled to be sentenced later this month, and he could face 10 years in prison, according to Judge Albert J. Wojcik.
He gave booze to one of the softball players he coached during an overnight stay in a hotel before a game, and when the girl woke up, Flores was lying next to her, according to court records.
To read about the crime, .
The other incidents involved groping over the victims' clothes, according to Louisa Pensanti, his attorney.
Struggling with the plea
Flores struggled to make the plea as he sat in the court in an orange prison uniform with his hands shackled to his waist.
He told his attorney in hushed tones he didn't want to plead guilty, and that he did nothing wrong.
"I would really worry about four teen girls getting on the stand and saying this stuff," she told him.
If convicted, he could face life in prison, she said. "That's a big decision. I don't think you want to make that decision."
Many of the jury members would likely have teenaged daughters themselves, she said.
No other choice
The judge asked Flores whether he was pleading guilty. "I don't think I have a choice," Flores said.
"Yes, you do have a choice," the judge told him. He could go forward with the hearing scheduled for the day, the victims would take the stand and the case would go to trial.
If the victims took the stand, the District Attorney's Office would no longer be willing to negotiate for a plea deal, Pensanti told Flores.
The judge asked Flores again whether he would plead guilty. "The way the law works, yes," he answered. Several women in the audience gasped quietly and rolled their eyes.
The defense attorney moved to make the "People v. West" plea. This means Flores would plead guilty, but only because it was in his best interest, rather than he because he was really guilty of the crimes.
The prosecutor, Julie Baldwin, objected. "Our office would not accept it as a West plea."
Pensanti backed down. "Run a line through it," she told the judge.
Outside the courtroom, the victims' family members hugged their attorney, Julie Baldwin.
"I'm really glad the girls have closure and all these families can start moving on and healing," she said.
The victims' family members declined to comment.
Pensanti considered getting him only 10 years rather than life was a victory.
Because several children were victimized, the stakes were higher, she said. "That's what put this whole case at risk for life in prison," she said after the hearing. "If it weren't for that, we would probably have gone to trial."
For the crimes Flores committed, the punishment was too harsh to risk getting, Pensanti said. "The conduct in this case does not merit life in prison."