Plea pushed back for HR coach accused of sex abuse

A former Hood River youth sports coach who was arrested and charged with numerous sex offenses last March won’t face a plea hearing until at least May.

Gerardo Morales, 25, of Parkdale, faces 13 criminal charges involving a minor, including sodomy, sexual abuse and attempted coercion. Several are felony charges which carry up to five years each in prison.

Prosecutors allege that between January 2012 and August 2013, Morales engaged in sex acts with a male youth under the age of 16, including “deviate sexual intercourse” and touching. They further argue that between May 2014 and March 2015 Morales tried to threaten and coerce the same victim into sexual contact.

Court records say Morales was the youth’s coach for some time before charges were filed. Morales used to work with young people in the community through various sports and youth group programs, according to a Hood River County Sheriff’s Office statement last year.

Deputies with the Sheriff’s Office arrested Morales on March 11, 2015, after a three-day investigation. He was booked into the regional jail (NORCOR), and he bailed out roughly two weeks later, posting $20,000.

Staff at the jail confirmed Morales has not been booked since.

On Monday, Morales appeared in person before Judge Karen Ostrye at Hood River Circuit Court. His attorney, Shannon Tissot, spoke from a phone, requesting the hearing be pushed back to a later date.

“I just picked up this case, which is quite voluminous … I would have to ask for more time,” Tissot said.

According to court records, Morales’ former lawyer, Sheri Thonstad, withdrew from that role in February.

Deputy District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen urged for the case to move forward quickly.

“Today marks … over one year for this case and it does involve a child,” Rasmussen said. “The family is very anxious that this moves along.”

Ostrye scheduled Morales’ next court appearance for May 23.

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