Ex-cheerleader coach sentenced to five years in prison for rape, molesting

EVERETT — A former cheerleading coach accused of having sex with one of his teenage students is headed to prison after failing to convince a judge that he should get treatment instead of a long stretch behind bars.

Michael Cielo, 37, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in state lock-up. H

e will be required to register as a sex offender and must undergo sexual deviancy treatment once he’s released from prison.

Cielo pleaded guilty last month to two counts of third-degree child rape and second-degree child molestation.

Prosecutors alleged that Cielo had a lengthy sexual relationship with one of his students beginning when the Everett girl was about 13. The girl met Cielo in 2006 as a seventh-grader participating in programs at the Galaxy Cheer Gym in Redmond. Cielo became her coach and eventually groomed her for a sexual relationship that continued until the girl entered high school, according to court records.

The victim, now 18, told the judge on Tuesday that she is strong and will survive. She regrets that she lied to her mother about what was happening to her. Her parents trusted Cielo. She trusted him. She also told the judge that she is forever changed. She once loved cheerleading. That love is gone, she said.

“You ruined my passion, my future and my dreams,” the victim said to Cielo.

Cielo apologized on Tuesday saying he was sorry “things turned out this way.”

Defense attorney John Kannin asked that his client be sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation under a special sentencing alternative. The alternative sentence is available to some offenders and reduces incarceration time in exchange for extensive out-of-custody treatment.

Kannin pointed out that an psychologist found that Cielo is amenable to treatment and a low-risk to reoffend. Cielo had no prior criminal history and has support from his wife, family and friends, Kannin said. The state Department of Corrections recommended that Cielo receive the alternative sentence.

Deputy prosecutor Edirin Okoloko opposed the defense’s recommendation and questioned Cielo’s motive for seeking treatment beyond hoping to serve less time behind bars. He argued that the alternative sentence would not adequately punish Cielo.

“I am troubled by abuse of trust that took place in this case,” Okoloko said.

Superior Court Judge David Kurtz agreed that Cielo had abused his position as a coach and mentor. In a lengthy explanation, Kurtz said that he has no doubt that Cielo needs treatment. However, Cielo can get treatment after he spends time in prison for the crimes he committed, the judge said.

Kurtz pointed to the ongoing nature of the abuse.

“This was not a situation involving a momentary lapse in judgement,” Kurtz said. “It was a calculated series of acts that happened again and again and again.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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