SAN MARCOS — An ice skating coach accused of secretly videotaping a 12-year-old girl in the shower was arraigned in a Vista courtroom on Feb. 18, and pleaded not guilty to one count of child pornography.
A warrant for the arrest of Marc Romain Mandina, 41, was issued by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department last October after the alleged incident was discovered, which was believed to have happened in Mandina’s San Marcos home in 2007.
Mandina is a French National who was a professional ice skater in the 1990s. He participated in the French National Figure Skating Championships.
He came to the United States for more opportunity, and also was a sought-after coach, according to defense attorney Daniel Greene.
Mandina had worked as an instructor for at least three San Diego County skating rinks before the videotape was discovered and he left the state and went to the Boston area, said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.
He was located on Jan. 28, 2011, in Leominster, Mass. and arrested by U.S. marshals.
Mandina was found living with a woman who was also a figure skating coach, according to the North County Times.
Watanabe said that the incident was discovered last year by Mandina’s wife.
“His wife popped a video tape into the player and saw a shot of the defendant placing a camera in the master bedroom,” Watanabe said.
Then, a scene in their master bathroom was revealed, and showed a girl changing out of a bathing suit and getting into the shower, he said.
“In the video she’s about 12 years old,” he said. “In the video you can see her nude.”
Watanabe said that the girl was the daughter of Mandina’s close friend — the friend was also an ice skating instructor — and it was not unusual for the girl to come to Mandina’s house and swim in the pool during the time frame of 2007 to 2010.
Mandina’s wife found out that the girl was unaware of the videotape.
She notified authorities and obtained a restraining order against the defendant, Watanabe said.
The defendant changed the locks on the house and removed at least one external hard drive from a computer, he said.
Mandina faces up to three years in prison if convicted of the single charge.
Greene said that his client has no prior criminal history, and that people are surprised by the allegations.
“He wasn’t aware a case had formally been filed,” he said, and added that due to media exposure it was hard for Mandina to find work in the area so he worked in Puerto Rico and Massachusetts where he used air travel to commute between the two locations.
Watanabe said that Mandina had an apologetic conversation with the girl’s father.
“He sent a text message that (said) he deserves his fist in his mouth and has a problem,” Watanabe said.
Superior Court Judge Harry Elias lowered Mandina’s bail from $50,000 to $20,000.
He is expected in court April 13 for a readiness conference and May 2 for a