Judge dismisses 'vindictive' sex charges against Aurora gymnastic coach
A DuPage County judge Wednesday dismissed two recently filed sex charges against former Aurora gymnastics coach Michael Cardamone, saying they carried an "appearance of vindictiveness."
The charges were filed in May, about three years after a state appellate court overturned Cardamone's 2005 conviction on charges he sexually abused seven girls at his family's American Institute of Gymnastics in Aurora. In a split verdict, a jury had acquitted him of charges involving seven others.
Prosecutors said the latest charges were based on "new evidence" involving one of the gymnasts Cardamone was convicted of molesting.
But Judge Blanche Hill Fawell dismissed them Wednesday after Cardamone's attorney argued they merely rehashed old accusations in light of his client's successful appeal.
"The court does find the appearance of vindictiveness arises," Fawell said. "The defendant cannot be punished for exercising his constitutional right to appeal."
Had the charges remained in place, Cardamone could have faced a significantly greater prison sentence if convicted than he would face as previously charged.
Cardamone, 34, who has maintained he is innocent since he was first arrested in 2002, said in a recent interview that prosecutors have pressured him for years to plead guilty, and he believed the latest charges were a result of his refusal to do so.
After the judge's ruling, Cardamone said he was "grateful for today and hopeful for the future."
"I will continue the fight to prove my innocence," he said.
Defense attorney Ron Menaker declined to comment.
State's Attorney Robert Berlin said prosecutors would review Fawell's ruling.
"It certainly does not affect any of the other pending charges in the case," he said.
Cardamone remains free on bond and is working as an air-conditioning repairman while barred from coaching.
His retrial is set for April 2012, nearly a decade after he was first charged.
He returns to court next month.