SANTA CRUZ -- A Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge set bail at $500,000 Wednesday for a local youth wrestling coach accused of molesting two minors he worked with as a child-welfare advocate.
Brian Criswell, 39, of Santa Cruz sat quietly in the courtroom, occasionally burying his head in his hands.
Criswell was arrested Oct. 4 on suspicion of child molestation and posted $50,000 bail Oct. 8. He was arrested again Friday after further investigation by Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office revealed a second victim.
In addition to two counts of child molestation from his first arrest, he faces 14 new charges for a total of 16.
Bail for the first two counts was set at $500,000. Bail for the second set of charges was set at $150,000 but prosecutor Michael Gilman asked Judge Paul Burdick to increase the amount given seriousness of the charges.
"This case is about as bad, as heinous as they get," prosecutor Michael Gilman said in court. "I want to make sure he doesn't bail out and the community is protected."
Judge Paul Burdick granted the request, raising the bail amount to $500,000 and making Criswell's total bail $1 million.
While each victim is being treated as a separate case, Gilman said he plans to consolidate the charges.
The allegations include committing lewd act with a child under 14 by force, showing pornography to a child, possessing child pornography and child molestation.
If convicted, Criswell faces 15 years to life in prison, Gilman said.
Criswell did not enter a plea and defense attorney Ken Azevedo declined to comment about the case outside of court.
Criswell remains in custody at Santa Cruz County Jail.
Criswell was a volunteer wrestling coach at Harbor High School until early October when he resigned in light of the sheriff's investigation. He did not know the victims through his role as a coach, investigators said.
Investigators said Criswell knew the victims through his role as a advocate for children at Court Appointed Special Advocates for Santa Cruz County. The organization trains volunteers work with abused or neglected children, advocating their needs to the county.
"He was placed in a position of trust and had an obligation to care for and protect children who were already in tough situations in their lives and he abused that position of trust," Gilman said.
There are roughly 130 advocates working with children at the nonprofit and this is the first time something such as this has happened in the organization's 21-year history.
One of the victims, a boy who was 12-year-old at the time, was molested from late 2009 to early 2010, Gilman said. The second victim, a 6-year-old boy, was molested from May to September.
Investigators believe there are additional victims and are asking anyone with information to call 831-454-2311.
Criswell is expected to appear in court Dec. 16 for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence against him for him to stand trial.
Follow Sentinel reporter Calvin Men at Twitter.com/calvinmenatwork
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