A former Sonoma Valley soccer coach pleaded no contest this afternoon to illegally having sex with a 16-year-old girl on his team.Gregory Vance Tatton, 44,originally pleaded not guilty to 26 felony charges of having sex with a minor, but he changed his plea on the first day of his trial in Sonoma County Superior Court today as part of a plea agreement. He pleaded no contest to six counts of unlawful sex with a minor more than three years younger than him and three counts of oral copulation with a minor age 16.If convicted of those charges alone, he would have faced eight years and four months in prison, Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders said. The 26 felony counts would have carried an 18-year, 2-month prison term.As part of his plea agreement, Tatton faces one year in the Sonoma County jail and five years’ probation when he is sentenced Aug. 25. He also must register as a sex offender.Sanders said she and defense attorney Ethan Balogh discussed the plea agreement at about 9 a.m. today. Tatton had previously rejected an offer from the district attorney’s office, Sanders said.Testimony by Sonoma County sheriff’s detective Jake Vivian at Tatton’s preliminary hearing late last year indicated Tatton, coach of the Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer Association’s traveling Arsenal team, had sex with the girl two or three times a week between June and November 2007, when the girl was 15 and 16 years old.The nine counts Tatton pleaded no contest to today apply to when the girl was 16.The girl’s mother became suspicious of the relationship because of text messages Tatton sent her daughter, who is now an 18-year-old college student.Tatton also sent the girl an amorous 16th birthday card in July 2007, according to testimony at the hearing.The girl denied having a relationship with Tatton until her mother confronted her in December 2007.The sheriff’s office suspended the investigation when the girl again denied having a relationship with Tatton in February 2008. The investigation resumed in January 2009 when the girl changed her story and provided details of their affair. Tatton was arrested in Los Angeles on April 3, 2009. Outside the courtroom, the girl’s mother, who did not want to be identified, said the plea agreement was a disappointment. “But my daughter won’t have to go through the stress of a trial,” she said.She also said Tatton will lose his mortgage broker’s license.Vivian agreed, saying, “The primary concern is we don’t victimize (the girl) again and have this played out over and over again.”The girl did not testify at the preliminary hearing, but Vivian said she was scheduled to testify at Tatton’s trial.Sanders said she is satisfied with the resolution of the case because Tatton admitted his responsibility, was convicted of the sex crimes and must register as a sex offender.Balogh, the defense attorney, quickly left the courthouse with Tatton after the plea this afternoon. Balogh did not return a call for comment this afternoon.
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