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Former Tampa Prep swim coach accused of videotaping girls expected to take plea deal

TAMPA — A former Tampa Preparatory School swim coach accused of secretly videotaping girls as they tried on bathing suits apparently will not stand trial.

In court Monday, prosecutors announced that Kimberly Brabson, 33, will accept a plea deal. Neither side would elaborate on the terms of the resolution, which will play out in court on Jan. 6.

Brabson is charged with 19 felony counts of promotion of sexual behavior by a child and 10 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism. Had he been convicted by a jury, he would have faced a maximum prison term of 15 years for each felony and one year in jail for each misdemeanor.

The Brabson investigation began in November 2006 after girls told school administrators their coach had asked them to try on swimwear and had asked at least one to remove her underwear first.

In January 2007, he was arrested after police said they found videos of nude girls, shot from neck to groin, ranging in age from 10 to 15. Police said the videos captured him setting up the camera.

That November, Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett dismissed the felony counts, saying the videos didn't depict sexual conduct. But an appellate court reversed the judge's decision, saying that decision should be left to a jury.

In a motion to dismiss the felony counts, Brabson's attorney, Eddie Suarez, said that since there is no sex or simulated sex in the videos, prosecutors would need to prove "actual lewd exhibition of the genitals." He said none of the videos meet that standard.

If Brabson were to take a plea deal in which all felony charges were dropped, he would not be labeled a sex offender. No longer a teacher, he now works as a landscaper at a golf course.

The criminal case has caused a slowdown in 10 lawsuits filed by his victims. Lawyers have not been able to interview Brabson because with a pending case, he has a Fifth Amendment right not to testify, Suarez said. A resolution to his case will allow him to answer questions.

Attorney Tom Carey's two daughters were victims. Without commenting on specifics of the deal, he said his family agreed with it. He said prosecutors did an excellent job but that the Florida statute under which Brabson was prosecuted was poorly written, and his family doesn't want to risk an acquittal.

He also said his girls have graduated and gone on to college. They want to move on, he said, and testimony would have been stressful.

"They were somewhat reluctant to relive all these events in fine detail," Carey said.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Former Tampa Prep swim coach accused of videotaping girls expected to take plea deal 11/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 8, 2010 11:46pm]
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