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Former Woodland youth coach convicted of child molestation, raping teen

A former Woodland youth baseball coach has been convicted of child molestation and raping an underage teen.

Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg on Feb. 18 found 34-year-old Rene Nicolas Munoz guilty of 17 counts of rape of a minor, 21 counts of child molestation, 38 counts of statutory rape, possession of child pornography, sodomy and forcible sexual penetration, according to a Yolo County District Attorney's Office news release.

Munoz was accused of posing as a gang member and using threats to keep the victim, a high school student and family friend, in a three-year relationship.

The victim testified that her family and Munoz's family had been friends since she was 10 or 12 years old. Munoz is the father of two children and his girlfriend had a son the same age as the victim, the news release said.

When the victim was 14 and starting her freshman year in high school in Woodland, she and Munoz, who was 29 at the time, began having sex at various locations in the Woodland area, starting in late 2012, according to the news release. They often texted and called each other multiple times a day. Munoz would film them having sex, as well as himself naked, and they would share the videos with each other, the news release said.

The relationship continued throughout the victim's freshman and sophomore years, and Munoz, on occasion, asked the victim to have her teenage friends engage in sex with them in return for money, according to the news release.

When she began her junior year in high school, the victim wanted to end the relationship with Munoz and to date boys her own age. But Munoz would not allow her to be in other relationships and often sent her text messages threatening the lives of boys he thought she was seeing. Munoz convinced the victim that he was a violent gang member and had killed people, leading the victim to stay with him out of fear he would hurt her or others she was with, the news release said.

In February of her senior year, the victim received information that Munoz was on his way to her house with garbage bags to dispose of her body and she called 911. Woodland police arrived to find Munoz outside her house.

Detectives found forensic evidence showing the threatening nature of the three-year relationship that prevented the victim from reporting Munoz's crimes. The information police found was consistent with the victim's version of events and the nature of the relationship, according to the news release.

Munoz testified in his own defense, citing his community ties including his years coaching for the Cal Ripken Youth Baseball Organization in Woodland, his longstanding relationship with his girlfriend and his roles as a father. He admitted being in the unlawful relationship with the victim, but blamed the victim for trapping him in the relationship, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Munoz is to be sentenced April 20.

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