Former gymnastics coach gets new trial date

May 6, 2011 4:47:20 PM PDT
A former suburban gymnastics coach who was convicted of fondling seven of his students six years ago found out he has a new trial date.

Michael Cardamone learned in DuPage County Court on Friday that prosecutors will finally re-file charges against him within the next three weeks on allegations of inappropriately touching female students.

He'll also finally be re-tried on his case which was overturned by an appellate court. That reversal was upheld by a state supreme court.

"This is my life that I'm fighting for, not knowing what the next step is going to be. Today, the judge was able to set a trial date which gives me some closure," Cardamone said.

In 2002, Cardamone was charged with inappropriately touching 14 teenage girls in his family's open-spaced gym in Aurora. A jury found him not guilty on charges connected to seven of the girls, and found him guilty on charges connected to seven other girls but only on lesser charges. He was found not guilty on all other more serious, predatory charges.

There was no physical evidence but there was testimony from the girls.

Fast forward to Friday -- Cardamone has been free on bond on his appeal, with a monitoring bracelet for two and half years. Joe Birkett, the State's Attorney who filed the charges, is no longer in office.

"When the truth is on your side, you just keep going. They will make it difficult for us but we have stood firm and continue to do so," said Cardamone's sister Alysha Millard.

Cardamone says he's refused to accept dozens of plea deals.

"There's no way. I didn't do anything wrong. I don't look back at a minute in that gym regretting anything," Cardamone said.

But in court Friday, prosecutors said they were going to narrow the focus of the case. The appellate court said that the first trial was unfair to Cardamone because the jury was overwhelmed. Cardamone and his attorneys say they believe that prosecutors intend on splitting the charges up into several trials -- different trials for different alleged victims.

"In their mind, it's 'If we lose that one then we'll have another chance and another chance.' It is a never ending nightmare," Cardamone said.

Cardamone's arraignment is scheduled for May 31. The trial will not start until March of 2012 -- that's 10 years after he was first charged.

Prosecutors declined to comment and and alleged victims declined comment. Many of the alleged victims are now in college.

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