Judge nixes molester's plea bargain

January 23, 2003 11:00 pm

By AMY LINDBLOM

Ruling that a three-year prison term is nowhere near what an admitted child molester should receive, a Tuolumne County judge has thrown out a plea bargain agreement that another judge accepted last month.

Jeffrey Koski pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to molesting a 13-year-old boy while the two were on a camping and fishing trip in Groveland in 1984. In exchange for the plea, Tuolumne County Assistant District Attorney Michael Knowles had agreed to drop two other molest charges and recommend a three-year sentence.

The plea bargain was accepted by Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Doug Boyack.

Yet, when Koski appeared before Superior Court Judge Eric DuTemple for a formal sentencing hearing Tuesday, DuTemple rejected the plea bargain and told Koski's attorney, Tuolumne County Public Defender Gerry Osmer, he would accept nothing less than an eight- to 10-year sentence.

Koski is to return to DuTemple's court Monday morning to either accept a longer sentence or face trial on all three charges. Koski remains in Tuolumne County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. Jail records lists his address as St. Petersburg, Russia.

"It is unfortunate the plea bargain was rejected," Osmer said. "I think it was a good resolution for everyone involved."

According to a probation report on the incident, Koski and the then-13-year-old boy were camping on the Tuolumne River near Groveland when Koski sexually abused the teen.

Koski, now 48, and the victim, now 31, are related, but do not share the same last name.

In December 1998, the victim told his mother about the long-ago incident, and together they reported the crime to a Napa police detective. At that time the victim lived in Napa, but he has since moved out of state.

Shortly after reporting the incident, the victim phoned Koski and a Napa Police detective recorded the conversation.

Based on statements Koski made during that conversation, an arrest warrant was issued. Koski had been on the run until he was arrested in November at San Francisco International Airport by customs agents when he tried to board a plane to St. Petersburg, Russia. He told arresting officers he was employed as an English teacher.