Former UI coach accused of setting up video camera in locker

Former UI coach accused of setting up video camera in locker

URBANA – The Champaign County state's attorney has filed a felony charge against a former University of Illinois gymnastics coach for videotaping a gymnast in a locker room on campus without the man's knowledge.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz filed a charge of unauthorized videotaping against Jon Valdez, 40, of the 1900 block of Newport Drive, Urbana, on Tuesday. A summons was issued ordering Valdez to go to court Dec. 12 to be arraigned on a charge of unauthorized videotaping.

Rietz said the charge alleges that on Sept. 25, Valdez made a video record of another man without that man's consent in a locker room at Kenney Gym.

Rietz said the man who was videotaped notified UI police about the matter in early October. She said on Sept. 25, he found the portable video camera in a locker partially concealed and mentioned it first to Valdez, with whom he had a scheduled coaching session that day. The light on the camera caught his attention, she said.

Valdez professed to have no knowledge of the camera and said he would report it to police.

"(The man) decided to follow up to check and see if it had been reported and learned that Valdez had not reported it," Rietz said, setting into motion the UI police investigation.

She said the police obtained the camera but found that the video in question had been deleted. They were able to recover it.

Rietz said she's not aware of any other incidents of videotaping by Valdez.

Unauthorized videotaping is a Class 4 felony carrying penalties ranging from probation to one to three years in prison upon conviction.

UI Sports Information Director Kent Brown said Valdez resigned Oct. 17 for personal reasons and declined further comment.

Before resigning, Valdez was in line to become head coach of the Illini men's gymnastics team. On April 25, the UI announced that he had been promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach and would succeed Yoshi Hayasaki when the current UI head coach retired following the 2008-09 season.

Valdez was in his ninth year on Hayasaki's staff when he resigned.

He also has served as the personal coach for 2008 Olympian Justin Spring, a former Illini NCAA champion and current UI assistant.

The coaching position vacated by Valdez will temporarily be filled by two-time Olympian Ivan Ivankov. On Nov. 11, the UI announced that Ivankov – the world all-around champion in 1994 and 1997 – will serve as visiting assistant coach for the 2008-09 season. Ivankov spent the last five years as a men's team coach at the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Okla.

A native of College Station, Texas, Valdez joined the UI staff in 2000 after 15 years in gymnastics club coaching. He was widely regarded as a key contributor to Illini teams that placed third or higher in four of the last five NCAA Championships. In 2004, Valdez was named National Assistant Coach of the Year by the College Gymnastics Association.

Valdez also has an extensive coaching background with USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of the sport. In 2007, he served as assistant coach for a U.S. Pan American Games team that earned a bonze medal. Besides Spring, Valdez also has coached 2000 Olympian Sean Townsend and several U.S. Junior National Team athletes.

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