Ex-softball coach in sexual exploitation case in custody

A federal magistrate ordered the detention late Thursday of a former Silverado High School softball coach charged with sexually exploiting a teenage member of the team.

Albert Silva Hernandez Jr., 43, of Las Vegas, pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sexual exploitation of a child and three counts of transporting child pornography. He is alleged to have exchanged sexually explicit texts and photo­graphs with the 17-year-old girl.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Nancy Koppe said in court that federal agents are trying to determine whether other girls were exploited by Hernandez, who also once coached a local youth softball team.

The Clark County School District has said Hernandez was hired as a coach in April 2009, but never had any teaching positions. He was Silverado's softball coach until the season ended earlier this year.

His lawyers sought his release from custody Thursday, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Johnston ordered Hernandez, who is unemployed and undergoing psychiatric treatment, to remain behind bars while he fights the felony charges.

Johnston, who set a Sept. 10 trial before U.S. District Judge James Mahan, said Hernandez posed a danger to the community and was a flight risk.

Koppe, who specializes in child porno­graphy cases, told Johnston that investigators recovered "extremely" graphic texts between Hernandez and the teenager.

Between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, investigators also recovered photos that Hernandez had sent to the girl's phone of the teen performing oral sex on him, Koppe alleged.

Hernandez sent the teenager a photo of his genitals, and at his request she sent him a photo of her breasts, Koppe said.

Hernandez tried to hide the relationship, which was uncovered by the girl's father, even after his original May 31 arrest by School District police, Koppe said.

The teenager had declared her feelings for Hernandez in one text message found by school police.

"I love you so much Albert," the message said. "You are my freaking everything and I'm so glad that we are together."

The girl's mother told police that Hernandez had been a family friend for years and that she viewed his role with her daughter as a "father figure" and "mentor."

Koppe said Thursday that state charges will be dropped against Hernandez so that the federal case can proceed.

If convicted, Hernandez faces a minimum of 15 years in prison on each of the eight federal exploitation charges and a minimum of five years behind bars on each of the child pornography counts.

Hernandez was free on $250,000 bail on the state charges when federal agents arrested him Wednesday night.

Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.


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