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updated: 11/21/2012 11:35 PM

'I never sexually abused anyone,' Cardamone insists

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Michael Cardamone gave a brief statement in court Wednesday after pleading guilty to inappropriately touching 14 former students at his family's Aurora gym. Here is his unexpurgated statement in full:

"I would first like to thank your honor for being patient these past, almost four years, and allowing me the opportunity to be with my family again, and raise my boys.

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"Being a father is the most incredibly wonderful position I've ever held. Every decision I make is with their best interest in mind. The only way I can describe not being with them for the beginning half of their lives was a feeling of suffocation, for I love them more than the air that I breathe.

"I was 25 years old when this case began, and my goal then was to clear my name of allegations that my conduct as a gymnastics coach was ever sexually motivated. And my focus then was to get back to the life I once knew.

At 30 years old, my goal was still to clear my name, but my focus shifted to just getting back home to my family.

"Now as I stand here at 35, I can say after 10 years of fighting, I believe I have accomplished what I have greatly sacrificed and lost to prove: that my conduct as a gymnastics coach was never sexually motivated. For, I never sexually abused anyone ever.

"My ultimate prayer, with today's conclusion to this case, is that everyone involved can hopefully now move forward with some closer, that this horrific chapter in our lives is behind us.

"It has always been very important to me to teach my boys to stand up for what is right and I believe I've done that in these last 10 years through my actions. Now it's time to teach them that once you've been heard to know when to walk away."

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