A Sonora High School girls varsity basketball coach appeared in Tuolumne County Superior Court for the first time on Friday and pleaded not guilty on five charges of sexually abusing a minor girl.
Amy Emerald, 42, was out of the custody of the Tuolumne County Jail and dressed in an olive green shirt and black pants when her case was called by Judge Donald Segerstrom Friday morning.
Segerstrom held a stack of papers in front of him and asked Emerald if she knew the identity of the victim identified in the charging documents.
Emerald, staring ahead toward the judge, paused, nodded, and said in a low voice, “yes.”
Emerald’s attorney, Kirk McAllister of Modesto, told Segerstrom he had not viewed the criminal complaint against his client. Segerstrom held one aloft and the documents were handed to McAllister, who leafed through the pages.
McAllister said Segerstrom did not have to read the charges aloud. Emerald would plead not guilty.
“The defense investigation is just beginning. When we get to the real facts of the case, the truth will show Amy Emerald is not guilty,” said McAllister after the hearing.
The criminal complaint alleges the incidents took place between 2013 and 2014 in Tuolumne County and Sacramento County.
The victim is identified as Jane Doe.
The charge of a lewd act upon a child, a felony, was alleged to have occurred on Feb. 9, 2013 in Tuolumne County against a 15-year-old girl. It adds that Emerald was at least 10 years older than the victim.
Two counts, arranging to meet a minor for lewd purposes, a misdemeanor, and sexual penetration of a foreign object, a felony, were alleged to have occurred in Sacramento County between June 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013.
The misdemeanor charges said Emerald was “motivated by an unusual and abnormal sexual interest in children.” It further alleges Emerald and the minor victim exposed their genitals during the act.
The final two counts, oral copulation of a minor, a felony, and sexual penetration by a foregin object, a felony, were said to have occurred between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014. The sexual penetration of a foreign object allegation was alleged to have occurred in Tuolumne County and the oral copulation of a minor charge did not identify a location.
Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke said during the arraignment hearing that each count referred to the same minor victim.
The criminal complaint was filed in the Tuolumne County Superior Court on Thursday.
Emerald was arrested by the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office on July 29, on suspicion of a single charge, lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old.
Sgt. Andrea Benson with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said the abuse occurred while the minor girl was enrolled at Sonora High School and participating in high school sports.
Benson said the student was no longer enrolled at the school.
According to Union Democrat records, Emerald was hired by Sonora High School as junior varsity girls basketball coach in 2001.
In an April 2011 interview with the Union Democrat announcing Emerald’s hiring as varsity girls basketball coach, it was noted she was was a two-year starter on the Sonora High School varsity girls basketball team. Emerald graduated from Sonora High School in 1995.
Emerald was also identified as a sports team coordinator in a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Mark Miller said Emerald was on administrative leave. Emerald was also placed on administrative leave from her coordinator II position with the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office.
The criminal complaint against Emerald does not mention basketball or any high school sports.
On Feb. 6, 2013, three days before the lewd act upon a child allegedly occurred, the Sonora High School girls varsity basketball team beat the Lathrop High School Spartans 66-45 in a home game.
On Feb.23, 2013, an article said she was awarded coach of the year for the Valley Oak League (the league Sonora High School was in at the time) for the 2012-13 season.
Segerstrom issued a protective order for the victim, meaning Emerald is barred from attempting communication or contact with her. McAllister said he did not object to the protective order.
Segerstrom set a preliminary hearing setting conference for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 9.
Jenecke said discovery would be made available next week to the defense and added Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter would be assigned to the case.
Segerstrom noted Emerald was released on bond. Her bail was set at $50,000 at the time of her arrest.
Emerald left the court with a group of people who appeared to be her family.