Kristopher Bland (Booking Photo
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Chino cheerleading coach was sentenced Friday to 18 years in state prison for molesting girls on his Pop Warner cheerleading squad.
Kristofer Bland, 34, of Chino pleaded “no contest” to 13 felony counts, including one count of sexual penetration on a minor age 14 and 12 counts of lewd act on a minor aged 14 or 15. The 13 charges involved three girls on his squad.
Bland was a cheer coach with the Chino Pop Warner league, a non-profit football and cheering organization for children ages 5-15.
“The defendant is a true predator,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss, who prosecuted the case. “He used his position as a cheerleading coach to win the trust and compliance of the girls under his care. His influence was so strong that some of the children whom he molested continue to defend him, because they love him so much.”
The mother of one of the girls called Chino police in Feb. 2014 after overhearing her discussing part of what Bland had done to her. The 14-year-old told police that Bland had committed acts of molestation on her while giving her a ride home from cheer practice. He had also told her that he had molested two other girls on the squad.
Bland admitted to police that he molested the 14-year-old. He also admitted to molesting two 15-year-olds on the squad. The crimes were committed over a span of five months between Aug. 2013 and Jan. 2014.
During the investigation, Bland was charged with molesting six additional girls on the team, aged 12 and 13. However, those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Kristopher Bland (Selfie)
At the time of his arrest, Bland was a private first class of the California Army National Guard in Azusa, working in intelligence analysis. His security clearance was pulled at the time of his arrest, and he will now receive a general discharge, other than honorable, according to his commanding officer.
The courtroom was packed with victims and their friends and family members, along with family members and supporters of the defendant.
The mother of the 14-year-old spoke at the hearing, stating, “I do not believe that he is sorry. I believe he is just sorry he got caught. Kristofer Bland is a sexual predator and threat to our community. I don’t know what the future holds for my daughter but I do know that as of today she will no longer be a victim of Kristofer Bland but a survivor of Kristofer Bland. She is the strongest and bravest person I know. I know she will not let this destroy her.”