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Oregon Sex Abuse Case Expands To Santa Barbara

Investigators in Oregon have been flooded with phone calls from concerned parents, whose children were photographed by Jeffrey Bettman over the years. They say some of those calls are from parents in the Santa Barbara area who suspect their child may be a victim.

Bettman was employed by U.C.S.B. for years as a gymnastics coach for the university’s club team. He also worked as a professional photographer. He had been accused of sexually assaulting two of his gymnasts, two girls ages 10 and 14, back in the late nineties.

A civil suit was filed against Bettman in 2000, but a Santa Barbara jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence against him at that time. Bettman moved to Oregon shortly thereafter and spent the last 12 years coaching gymnastics there until his arrest earlier this month.

Detectives believe Bettman had been video taping young girls during professional photo shoots, while they changed in a makeshift dressing room. At first, investigators thought there were about sixty victims. However, now they believe the number of victims is much higher.

Officers in Oregon have spent the past week processing evidence. So far, investigators have determined the files date back to at least 2003, and may include victims from Santa Barbara.

“Its shown this has been his pattern for at least the past 10 years here, so it’s reason to it could have been down there as well, we just haven’t found that yet,” explains Detective Joshua Nieminen, Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force. We’re told Bettman was the target of an online undercover investigation, for downloading and trading child pornography.

Officers served a search warrant, and confiscated his home computer. That’s when they discovered the disturbing home videos. Now it appears Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley is getting involved.

KEY News reporter Sara Bush has the story.

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