SAN FERNANDO, Calif. - A former high school wrestling coach convicted of sex-related charges involving nine children was sentenced on Tuesday to 71 years in state prison.
A jury in San Fernando found Terry Terrell Gillard, 58, of Sylmar, guilty May 7 of 47 felony and misdemeanor counts involving seven boys and two girls that he met through the wrestling teams at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley and the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando between 1991 and 2017.
The victims were between the ages of 11 and 17, according to Deputy District Attorney Cathy Lee.
Jurors convicted him of three felony counts each of committing a lewd act on a child, committing a lewd act on a child 14 or 15 and oral copulation of a person under 18, along with 28 felony counts of procuring a child to engage in a lewd act and 10 misdemeanor counts of child molestation.
Some victims spoke during the sentencing hearing.
"Once you gained our trust, you took advantage of us," one of them said. "You sexually exploited us. You did so and have never shown any remorse for it."
Outside court, attorneys from two law firms representing most of the victims lauded the lengthy prison sentence for Gillard.
"All of our clients are grateful to the criminal justice system for convicting Mr. Gillard and removing him from society so he can no longer abuse children," said attorney Morgan Stewart. "We must now turn our attention to an equally important quest -- for justice through the civil courts so victims, their families and the community at large can get to the truth of how Gillard was able, over a period of many years, to use the cover of a public high school and Boys and Girls Club wrestling teams to establish what amounted to an underage sex cult and child sex trafficking operation. We believe that lawsuits now pending against LAUSD (the Los Angeles Unified School District) and the Boys and Girls Club will lead us to that truth."
The LAUSD issued a statement saying:
Another attorney, Ronald Labriola, said the sentence "reflects both the harm and the pain that was caused to the victims of Mr. Gillard's abuse" and the "length of time over which Mr. Gillard abused these victims -- many years, many locations, on campus, off-campus, in cars and other locations."
He called the victims "the real heroes in this story."
"Mr. Gillard was arrested because of the courage and the bravery of these young victims, young high school students, some as young as in their freshman year," Labriola added.