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Former Sacramento youth gymnastics coach pleads guilty to child pornography charge

A former Sacramento youth gymnastics coach has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, more than a decade after he fled the country to escape arrest.

Derek "Swede" Godfrey, 48, was living in Rocklin and teaching gymnastics in 2006 when U.S. Homeland Security agents showed up at his house with a search warrant as part of a national operation to target child sexual exploitation, according to court documents.

Authorities were tracking down patrons of a pornography website called "illegal.cp" that provided sexual images of children to users who paid a fee.

Authorities found 439 videos and 5,933 photos "depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors," on Godfrey's Dell desktop, according to court documents.

Among the materials were a photo of a prepubescent girl gagged with a ball and rope being sexually abused, as well as a video of another young girl objecting she was being hurt by an adult male as he sexually assaulted her.

The day after the search, Godfrey fled the country, settling in the Netherlands, where he holds dual citizenship.

A U.S. federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted Godfrey in January 2007, but the Netherlands refused to allow him to be extradited to the United States to face trial, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lauren Horwood.

In 2012, Godfrey was located in Perth, Australia, where authorities said he was once again coaching youth gymnastics, after he was arrested by Australian authorities on unrelated charges, according to a U.S. Customs and Immigrations Enforcement press release.

Horwood said she didn't know where Godfrey had taught gymnastics in Sacramento.

Australian authorities agreed to his extradition, and Godfrey returned to face his pending Sacramento charges in April 2016.

On Thursday, Godfrey pleaded guilty to the charge after two years of delays, according to court records.

He is set to be sentenced on June 7 and will likely face up to eight years in jail, according to the plea agreement. His sentence was increased because the pornography found in his possession included images of "prepubescent minors" and contained "depictions of sadistic or masochistic conduct," according to court documents.

Godfrey has asked to serve his sentence in the Netherlands. The U.S. Attorney's office said in court filings it will back that request if asked. But the final decision rests with the court and the government of the Netherlands.

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