Wrestling coach sentenced to 10 years in prison

Erin Fox and Austin Hille

In March, former Cal High head wrestling coach Kevin Lopez, 28, was sentenced to 10 years, eight months in prison after pleading guilty to eight felonies related to his inappropriate acts with three minors.

Lopez was originally charged with 20 felony counts, all stemming from alleged inappropriate acts with a minor, committed between the years 2003-2014.

These charges included: 13 counts of Lewd Acts Upon a Child Age 14-15; two counts of Arranging a Meeting for the Purpose of Engaging Certain Lewd and Lascivious Behavior;  and one count of Using a Minor for Non Commercial Sex Acts.

It also included two counts of Distributing/Exhibiting Lewd Matter to a Minor; one count of Contacting a Minor for the Purpose of Engaging in Lewd and Lascivious Behavior; and one count of Committing a Lewd Act on a Minor under 14.

Lopez had been involved with the wrestling program since graduating from Cal in 2005. He served as an assistant wrestling coach for seven seasons and was then promoted to head coach in 2012.

He was fired on Sept. 9, 2014, following his arrest on suspicion of sexual misconduct with teens and booked into Martinez Detention Facility.

Lopez had a standout high school wrestling career as a four-year varsity member. During his time in high school, Lopez placed second in the EBAL in the 130-weight class his senior year and third his junior year. He also advanced to NCS his junior and senior seasons.

Prior to Lopez’s September arrest, there was a lot of corroborating evidence against him. Many of the details of this case could not be disclosed with police due to its sensitive nature involving juveniles. The case report was also not made public, and all the underlying evidence had been sealed by order of the court.

The arrest caught many team members and students off guard given Lopez’s high involvement in the team as well as a local church.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said senior TJ Smith, who is part of the varsity wrestling team. “He was the last person I thought would’ve done something like that. He is so religious and selfless.”

Despite the setback of not having coach for the majority of off-season training, the team rallied to win a share of the EBAL title for the first time in 20 years, sending 13 wrestlers to NCS in total.

It was one of the more remarkable turn-arounds in Cal High athletics.

“I’m proud of how we are doing and how we’ve made a complete 180,” said junior Demetri Georgiades.