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Forest Hills soccer coach convicted of abusing boys

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A Forest Hills soccer league coach was convicted of sexually abusing six young boys in Queens hotel rooms in 2001 after the jury deliberated for 10 hours, District Attorney Richard Brown said Thursday.

Fernando Colman, 37, of Elmont, L.I., is a founder and former coach of the Argentina Soccer School in Forest Hills. He was found guilty on 19 counts of sodomy, sex abuse, attempted sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child, said Brown.

He faces consecutive sentences of more than 100 years in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 5.

"The defendant has been found guilty by a jury of preying upon children entrusted to his care and destroying their innocence to satisfy his own pathological sexual desires," said Brown.

"His conduct was reprehensible and his victims were scarred for life. His crimes warrant the severest of punishment," the DA said. "I hope the prospect of the defendant's lengthy imprisonment brings a measure of solace to the traumatized children and their families."

During Colman's 10-day trial in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens, six boys ages 10 to 13 testified against their soccer coach. One boy said Colman told him and other boys to do a strip tease for him and later awakened him from his sleep by touching his private parts. Another boy testified that Colman had kissed him on the lips and sodomized him.

"These are very difficult cases. They're very emotional," said Colman's defense attorney, Martin Gedulig. "They had six kids testify. It's very difficult to convince a jury that the kids are not being truthful and he (Colman) is being truthful."

Gedulig said his client was saddened by the verdict and had asked him to file an appeal as soon as he could.

The defense attorney added that he was a bit surprised at the verdict because he had thought if the jury were going to find Colman guilty, they would do it quickly. Instead, they deliberated for 10 hours over three days before unanimously convicting him on all counts.

According to the DA, Colman sexually molested his victims between January and April 2001 during overnight stays at two Queens hotels - the best Western Hotel at 113-10 Corona Ave. in Flushing and the Clarion Hotel at 9400 Ditmars Blvd. in East Elmhurst.

An investigation of the soccer coach began after one of the boys told his mother that he had been sexually abused by Colman at the coach's house in Elmont, L.I.

Last year Colman was acquitted of 12 felony counts after being tried in a Nassau County court. He was convicted of two child endangerment misdemeanors for which he was serving a two-year term in jail prior to and during his second trial.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, ext. 155.

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