Michael Cardamone timeline

 
Updated 9/16/2011 5:26 AM
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2002

• December: Michael Cardamone, 25, is charged with molesting six young girls at his family's American Institute of Gymnastics in Aurora. DuPage County authorities say the allegations surfaced a month earlier when a gymnast complained to her parents. Prosecutors announce investigators are interviewing other potential victims.

2003

• January: Cardamone is charged with abusing four more girls, including a 5-year-old at a 1999 tumbling class at Aurora's Rush-Copley Hospital. As charges mount, so do tensions between the coach's supporters and the families of his alleged victims. Cardamone's mother, Linda Lynch, screams, "I hope you're satisfied" at some of the accusers' parents at a court appearance. A judge threatens to bar people on both sides if skirmishes continue.

2004

• March: Kane County prosecutors dismiss charges involving the 5-year-old. Authorities call it a "strategic move" to protect their case in DuPage, while the defendant's mother calls it a "first step in proving his innocence."

• August: Cardamone returns to jail, accused of calling 911 to falsely report that the mother of one of his accusers is driving drunk. He's charged with harassment of a witness and disorderly conduct after police determine the driver was sober and that the call came from Cardamone. By now, he's accused of molesting 10 gymnasts.

• October: More girls come forward, accusing Cardamone of inappropriately touching them, bringing the total to 14.

2005

• January: Pretrial testimony from a psychologist indicates Cardamone's case is an example of children developing false memories through "suggestive" interviews. Although the testimony is not admitted at trial, Cardamone's attorneys seek to put it on the record in advance of a potential appeal. Two weeks later, the trial opens with a 16-year-old girl who testifies Cardamone repeatedly molested her through the final year of her training ending in 2002. Two more girls testify to similar allegations.

• February: The remaining 11 alleged victims testify against Cardamone, whose defense team calls more than 60 other students, parents and coaches to counter the accusations. Lynch, Cardamone's mother and owner/operator of the facility, tells jurors she "never" saw her son act inappropriately with the young athletes.

• March: Cardamone takes the stand and vehemently denies fondling any students, saying the charges may be linked to his decision to split up many of the girls he'd trained together for years and his regular disciplining of them. After 26 days of testimony and 22 hours of deliberations, jurors return a split verdict. They find Cardamone guilty of abusing half the girls and not guilty of abusing the other half. He is acquitted of the most serious offenses, which carry a potential life sentence. Several of the gymnasts' families bring a lawsuit against the former coach.

• December: Judge Michael Burke sentences Cardamone to 20 years in prison, calling him a "serial sexual offender" who is "untreatable because he takes no accountability for his actions." Cardamone vows to clear his name: "I didn't do this," he says. "I know everyone says that, but that doesn't mean that sometimes, when someone says it, it's not true."

2006

• January: Judge George Bakalis convicts Cardamone of harassing a witness -- the mother of one of his alleged victims -- and sentences him to three years in prison for falsely reporting her as a drunken driver.

2008

• March: Second District Appellate Court overturns Cardamone's conviction and orders a new trial. The court says Burke erred in allowing jurors to hear too much evidence of alleged incidents of sexual conduct -- up to 257 -- involving Cardamone that didn't result in charges. The panel also takes issue with, among other factors, Burke's decision to exclude a defense witness who would have testified about false memories.

• September: Illinois Supreme Court declines prosecutors' request to reverse Cardamone's successful appeal in the hopes of sparing his young accusers another emotional trial.

• December: As Cardamone tries to persuade a judge to set him free on bail, he is indicted on perjury charges stemming from his harassment trial. The charges allege Cardamone lied when he testified he didn't know a driver he reported to police was the mother of one of his accusers. The indictment came after Cardamone's wife, from whom he had filed for divorce, told authorities a different story. Cardmone has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.

2009

• January: As Cardamone is released on $55,000 bail, his mother, Linda Lynch, and her facility's office manager, Andrea Arndt, face charges they altered the coach's schedule to bolster his defense at trial. (Both women have pleaded innocent and are awaiting trial.)

• March: The Illinois Supreme Court upholds Cardamone's harassment conviction, saying he "subtly and indirectly transmitted a message (to a witness) through the police."

• June: Judge Blanche Hill Fawell orders Cardamone fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts after he pushes the limits of his bond conditions by taking his two sons to places frequented by children, including a Chuck E. Cheese and the gym where he used to work. Fawell says she's "astounded" Cardamone would consider such outings to be appropriate, but accepts some of the blame for "not making my order clear enough."

2010

• January: A lawsuit brought by 13 gymnasts is settled for $1.5 million. Lynch says the amount is "less than 10 percent of what they originally demanded." The plaintiffs' attorney calls it "vindication."

• February: Prosecutors accuse Cardamone along with his mother, wife and an employee of conspiring to doctor his work schedule in an attempt to persuade a judge to declare a mistrial or vacate the 2005 jury's "not guilty" findings. That strategy is abandoned days later.

2011

• May: Prosecutors bring additional charges against Cardamone based on "new evidence" from the perjury and conspiracy investigations. Cardamone says the state is reacting "maliciously and vindictively" to his repeated refusals to take a plea deal.

• August: Judge Fawell dismisses the latest series of charges, saying they carry an "appearance of vindictiveness" in light of Cardamone's successful appeal. Prosecutors say the decision does not affect a retrial on the remaining counts, tentatively scheduled for April 2012.