For the first time since arrest Otis talks
This was supposed to be another banner year for former Compton Dominguez high school basketball coach Russell Otis and his storied Dons program, but for Otis it has been a living nightmare.
In September 2008, Otis was removed from his position as head basketball coach at Dominguez and placed on paid administrative leave for allegations of child molestation with one of his players.
The player who had transferred after the allegations even attended a championship ring ceremony with his former teammates and the coach at Compton City Hall a couple of months later.
Otis with support of many of his former players and their parents had protested his removal at several school board meetings to no avail.
The Sheriff and the Los Angeles County District Attorney Office continued to comb for evidence that would support that such a crime had been committed, but did not arrest or charge the fallen coach until March 7.
While media outlets published that Otis had been charged on new allegations, his arrest stem from the accusations of last year with the former player.
The 46-year old coach has been banned from speaking with players or parents since the incident and had not made any public comments about the matter.
However, since his recent arrest where he was charged with a felon of "meeting a minor for lewd purposes," and a misdemeanor charge of child molestation, the coach finally spoke out this week in an exclusive interview with the Sentinel.
"I can't really say anything about the charges because they are nothing new. This is the same information that my attorney and I have been defending since August," Otis said.
Otis has led Dominguez to five state championships, 10 Southern Section crowns and a national title and has been instrumental in the careers of NBA stars Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons and Tyson Chandler of the New Orleans Hornets.
But he says now that basketball is the farthest thing from his mind at the moment.
"Obviously I love coaching and I love Dominguez High School, but right now I'm just praying and focusing on the charges against me."
Without Otis, Dominguez enjoyed another successful season advancing to the semifinals of both the sectional playoffs and the Southern California regional tournament.
"I am proud of them and in no way am I surprised by their success. I think often I get more credit than I deserve because I have been blessed with good kids who are talented players," he said.
Free on $75,000 bond, Otis is no longer on paid administrative leave because charges have been filed against him.
"I am blessed and quite fortunate to have accomplished what I have in basketball and no one can take that away a from me. I worked hard for it and earned it the old-fashioned way, but I'd be lying to you if I said that I was not hurt and quite sad at the current circumstances."
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Los Angeles Superior Court in Compton on March 30.