Man guilty of 18-year-old molestation

December 22, 2002 11:00 pm

By AMY LINDBLOM

After admitting he molested a 10-year-old boy more than 18 years ago while on a camping trip in Tuolumne County, Jeffrey Koski will spend the next three years in a state prison.

Friday, Koski confessed to the 1984 abuse and pleaded guilty to three counts of child molestation.

In 1998, while undergoing psychological therapy, the victim revealed the secret he kept all those years, Assistant District Attorney Michael Knowles said.

Knowles filed charges against Koski on Oct. 21, 1999, after listening to a tape-recorded conversation between the victim and Koski. On the tape, when confronted by the victim, Koski admitted to the crimes.

"That was the overwhelming evidence we needed to convict him," Knowles said.

At the time of the incidents, the victim lived in Napa.

He and Koski were visitors here when the molestation took place.

Koski has lived and worked in St. Petersburg, Russia, for several years and is related to the victim.

Tuolumne County Public Defender Jerry Osmer said Koski accepted a plea bargain offered by Knowles because he wanted to spare the victim — now an adult living in another state — the ordeal of a public trial.

Koski faced three counts of molestation and a 10-year prison sentence if convicted. But Knowles said he ran the risk of not getting a conviction if the case had gone to a jury, so under the bargain, Koski pleaded guilty in exchange for a shorter prison sentence.

Koski will have to serve at least 85 percent of a three-year prison term before being eligible for parole. He will be sentenced Jan. 22.

Koski, 48, who had been on the run since the charges were filed, was arrested Nov. 15 at San Francisco International Airport as he tried to board a plane back to Russia, when he was detained by United States Customs agents.

Although the crimes were committed so long ago, Knowles was able to prosecute Koski based on a state law that says if a molestation is committed while the victim is younger than 14 but not reported until the victim is older than 18, charges may be filed within one year of the victim's notifying law enforcement of the crime.