ESCONDIDO — The director of a now-defunct Vista volleyball club was arraigned Jan. 23 on nearly two dozen charges relating to alleged unlawful sexual conduct with three of his former underage players, one of whom he eventually married.
Steven Antony, 39, pleaded not guilty to 23 sexual abuse counts stemming from his time as a coach at Sunstorm Volleyball Club. The multitude of charges include committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child, unlawful sexual intercourse and performing sexual intercourse with a foreign object. All three girls were between the ages of 15 and 17.
If convicted of the charges, Antony faces three to 10 years in prison, Deputy District Attorney Lisa Stark said.
At the hearing, Vista Superior Court Judge Joe Littlejohn decreased Antony’s bail from $1 million to $700,000, which was still a long way from the $100,000 bail his attorney, Brad Patton, had asked for. The lawyer told Littlejohn that his client cooperated fully with the authorities when he found out in September that he was under investigation for the alleged crimes.
Following the hearing, Antony’s mother, Carole Lee, denied a request to comment about the allegations.
And while Patton didn’t comment on the judge’s denial of his bail request, he did say he found it odd that Antony’s ex-wife was one of the girls citied as a victim. Patton said the couple was married for five years, but divorced in 2007, when the woman was 27.
Stark confirmed that Antony was married to one of the alleged victims. She said their sexual relationship started when the girl was 15 and he was 27. Stark said Antony’s ex-wife didn’t intend for him to be criminally charged for their past relationship; however, prosecutors filed the charges in lieu of statements she made after being questioned by authorities.
Last September, authorities received a tip that Antony was having a sexual relationship with a player on his Sunstorm Volleyball Club team, sheriff’s Sgt. Hank Turner said. Further investigation revealed the two other victims, he said. Antony was arrested Jan. 22 during a traffic stop in Escondido, the sergeant said.
In addition to coaching at Sunstorm Volleyball Club, Antony taught special education and coached boys and girls volleyball teams at Escondido’s San Pasqual High School since 2004, said Steve Boyle, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Escondido School District.
The victims had no relation to the high school, authorities said.
Antony was placed on paid administrative leave in September because of the investigation into the case, Boyle said. But now that he has been officially charged, Boyle said Antony’s status will most likely change.
A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 11. Antony’s next scheduled court appearance is a Feb. 3 readiness conference.