Tulare coach faces judge for molestation allegations

We're learning more about a Tulare man who authorities believe preyed on the young girls he coached.
February 21, 2014 5:41:54 PM PST
We're learning more about a Tulare man who authorities believe preyed on the young girls he coached.

Denell Johnson, 38, faced a judge Friday on two felony counts of child molestation with special allegations for being convicted of the crime before. He's also facing a third felony for communicating with a minor to commit a sex crime. Police say the victim in this case is 14 years old. Authorities say their case against Johnson isn't complete, but charged him in order to shield the first victim from any further abuse.

"We felt it was to protect her at this point while the investigation continues," said Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Anthony Fultz. "I know the Tulare Police Department is continuing to look at potential other victims regarding this."

Authorities say they have information that Johnson has other female victims between the ages of 13 and 17-years-old, adding that he was a youth girls' coach in the Tulare area.

"The fact that he would use that to prey on youth these are kids that are put in this thru their parents expecting they'll be protected by coaches and the fact that a coach would prey on the youth he's involved with makes it even that more disturbing."

Denell Johnson has six prior felony convictions of child molestation from 2003. He is a registered sex offender. His criminal past would have come up on a background check. Authorities won't reveal where he coached or what sport.

Neighbors tell Action News that he coached basketball. One neighbor who didn't want to be identified said he would often see young teenage girls at Johnson's house, while his wife wasn't home.

"I'd come out and be there and they'd be there getting ready to go and I'd see kids."

Johnson's attorney says his client has denied the allegations against him and was shocked to hear about them. His court hearing was continued, because the district attorney's office says it expects to bring more charges against him.

Defense Attorney Albert Garcia said, "We're focused on one fire and all of a sudden there's other fires to put out so I have to first figure out if those fires first do exist."

Because of his prior convictions, Denelle Johnson faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted on the current charges he's facing.

Authorities believe there are more victims. They're asking that if you are one of those victims to come forward. They will protect your identity.


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