Peter Jeschke, a former Santa Barbara High School assistant tennis coach found guilty by a jury in 2009 of seven of 11 counts held against him—mostly sex crimes—will now face trial for allegedly dissuading witnesses who were slated to testify against him at his previous trial.
Judge Bruce Dodds found sufficient evidence that Jeschke could have been involved in a conspiracy to dissuade witnesses at a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon. According to testimony from Santa Barbara Detective Jaycee Hunter, the only witness called by prosecutor Joyce Dudley, Jeschke had been in contact with a former female tennis player who was 19-years-old at the time of communication. Documents of recorded phone calls as well as text messages sent back and forth between Jeschke and the former tennis player were presented to the judge. Hunter, after obtaining a search warrant for the defendant’s phone, found text messages that he said proved the defendant was in communication with the woman as well as her younger brother, also a former player of Jeschke’s.
However, defense attorney Michael Hanley voiced an objection arguing that the text messages could have been sent by someone else using the defendant’s phone. The judge overlooked this theory. The text messages led to an investigation of the woman’s parents’ home in Montecito where her younger brother also allegedly spoke with Hunter. He informed the detective that the defendant had in fact been trying to contact him to get him and various other people to commit perjury in order to benefit his case. According to the brother, the defendant contacted many of the members of the boy’s tennis team as well as his best friend. The detective testified that the boy claimed the defendant wanted his friend to stand up in court and deny that he was ever given marijuana by Jeschke, and to take credit for ordering a pornographic video that the two watched while staying in a hotel during a tennis match. The text messages that were sent between the defendant and the 19-year-old girl also hinted that Jeschke wanted her to dissuade the three young witnesses from testifying against him.
Hunter said he believed the messages sent from the defendant to his former tennis player prompted her to create a false Facebook account under a false name, as a final way to help her former coach in his trial. The account was created as a way to send anonymous messages to the witnesses. The messages, submitted to the court as evidence, were sent as a method of intimidation to provoke the girls not to testify in court against Peter Jeschke, Hunter said. However, Hanley suggested the 19-year-old, who admitted to all of these events in an interview with the detective, is an unreliable source. Hanley, using the records of Hunter’s interview with her, argued that she “was a little drunk” when creating the Facebook account as well as sending the messages. According to Hunter her recollection of the messages was very fuzzy, and for a while she was unable to recall sending one of the witnesses a message, nor could she remember the order in which the messages were sent.
Hanley also argued that she lacked credibility due to the fact that she has evaded contact with the court leading the defense attorney with the belief that she has something to hide. However, the judge disagreed, finding that there is no evidence proving this theory. The hearing ended with Dodds stating that there is sufficient evidence for Jeschke to head to trial to face the nine counts which focus on the conspiracy to dissuade witnesses from testifying. Jeschke will be back in court July 1.