MURRIETA – A Murrieta youth wrestling coach who allegedly furnished team members with alcohol and showed them pornographic movies pleaded not guilty today to misdemeanor charges.
Michael David Atkins, 45, of Temecula, was arrested June 11 at his residence in the 46400 block of Teton Trail.
Atkins, who is free on $50,000 bail, did not appear at his arraignment before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Raquel Marquez, who waived the defendant’s appearance at the request of defense attorney Paul Grech.
After accepting the plea by way of Grech, the judge scheduled a trial- readiness conference in the case for Jan. 8 at the Southwest Justice Center.
Atkins could face up to a year in jail, fines and other penalties if convicted of two counts of furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor and one count each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and distributing harmful material to a minor.
According to Murrieta police, the defendant was a coach for the Murrieta Golden Hawks Youth Wrestling Club, part of the Amateur Athletic Union. The organization supervises after-school sports programs.
”It came to the attention of the police department through an anonymous (source) that Atkins had developed a personal friendship with at least three minors on the club team over approximately the last four months,” Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad said in June. ”An in-depth investigation revealed that inappropriate actions took place off campus.”
The wrestling club rents the gym at Murrieta Valley High School but is not affiliated with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, according to Conrad, adding that Atkins is also not a school district employee.