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Article updated: 10/27/2011 5:28 AM

Cardamone free to talk, but judge says he shouldn't

Accused gymnastics instructor Michael Cardamone speaks with the Daily Herald at an interview earlier this year.

Accused gymnastics instructor Michael Cardamone speaks with the Daily Herald at an interview earlier this year.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

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A DuPage County judge Wednesday declined to issue a gag order against accused gymnastics instructor Michael Cardamone, but "strongly discouraged" him from speaking to the news media about his child molestation case.

Prosecutors had accused Cardamone, 34, of lying about plea offers in recent interviews as he prepares for retrial next year.

Judge Blanche Hill Fawell met briefly with the prosecution and defense Wednesday in her chambers before advising the defendant to quiet down. She said she didn't believe an official gag order sought by prosecutors was necessary, but that she wanted to be "very clear."

"You're really hurting yourself when you make statements to the press," she told Cardamone. "I'm not sure what would motivate you to do that. To a reasonable person, it could look like an attempt to taint the jury pool."

Cardamone declined to comment to reporters outside of court but told the judge he didn't mean to be disrespectful.

Cardamone was found guilty in 2005 of sexually abusing seven young female gymnasts at his family's American Institute of Gymnastics in Aurora. A jury acquitted him of molesting seven others.

In 2008, an appellate court ordered a new trial, having taken issue with an abundance of uncharged allegations presented as evidence at Cardamone's first trial and the exclusion of a defense witness who would have testified the alleged victims could have false memories.

Cardamone remains free on bond and is scheduled for retrial in April, nearly a decade after he was first charged. His sister previously said he stood by all of his statements to the press.

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