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updated: 10/5/2011 4:33 PM

DuPage prosecutors seek gag order for accused coach

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  • Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com Accused gymnastics coach Michael Cardamone speaks with the Daily Herald in an interview earlier this year.

      Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com Accused gymnastics coach Michael Cardamone speaks with the Daily Herald in an interview earlier this year.

 

Prosecutors want to silence a former Aurora gymnastics coach who they say lied to the media in an effort to sway potential jurors at his child molestation retrial.

Specifically, prosecutors say, Michael Cardamone made "flatly false" statements when he told several newspapers, including the Daily Herald, that he's rejected numerous plea deal offerings since an appellate court overturned his 2005 conviction.

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"In truth … it has been the People who have rejected plea proposals by the defendant" during that time, Assistant State's Attorneys Alex McGimpsey and Mike Pawl wrote in a motion seeking a gag order.

Cardamone declined to comment because of the pending motion, but his sister said he stands behind "all his previous statements."

"He might not be able to talk anymore, but his fight is far from over," Alysha Millard said.

DuPage County Judge Blanche Hill Fawell is expected decide later this month whether to bar Cardamone from speaking publicly about his case.

Prosecutors submitted as evidence five news articles published since January 2009 referencing plea deals Cardamone says he refused.

Those statements, they say, were "designed solely to manipulate the criminal justice system by attempting to influence the jury pool with inappropriate (and misleading) information about plea negotiations, allegedly originating from the prosecution," according to their motion.

Millard said that's not true.

"Michael is not doing anything to sway a jury," she said. "He's fighting to clear his name. They destroyed it."

A jury convicted Cardamone, 34, in 2005 of sexually abusing seven young female gymnasts at his family's American Institute of Gymnastics in Aurora. He was found not guilty of molesting seven others.

In 2008, an appellate court overturned the conviction, taking issue with an abundance of uncharged allegations presented as evidence at trial and the exclusion of a defense witness who would have testified the alleged victims could have false memories.

Cardamone, who is free on bond, is scheduled for retrial in April, nearly a decade after he was first charged. His attorney, Ronald Menaker, declined to comment.

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