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Former Illinois gymnastics coach pleads guilty

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URBANA, Ill. - A former University of Illinois men's gymnastics coach pleaded guilty on Tuesday to videotaping a gymnast in a campus locker room.

Jon Valdez, who also was the personal coach of Beijing Olympian Justin Spring, pleaded guilty to one felony count of unauthorized videotaping Tuesday in an Urbana courtroom, said Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

Valdez was sentenced to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service, Rietz said. He will also have to undergo mental health, substance abuse and sex offender evaluations.

Rietz said that, while Valdez does not face jail time, his professional future could be "effectively over."

"My understanding is it's a small world," she said.

Valdez hopes his plea puts the episode behind him, said his lawyer, Lance Northcutt of Chicago.

"He wishes for the plea to speak for itself in accepting responsibility and taking away an unnecessary distraction for the school and the athletes that are involved," Northcutt said.

He declined to discuss Valdez's future plans.

Valdez, an assistant coach at Illinois, was charged after a 22-year-old student gymnast found a video camera partially hidden under a T-shirt in a campus locker in September. The camera was pointed out of the locker through a small opening and would have been able to capture images of people changing their clothes, police said.

Valdez resigned in October as an assistant coach at Illinois, citing personal issues.

Northcutt has said a pending drunk-driving case in Wisconsin played a role in that decision.

Valdez had been on the Illini coaching staff since 2000 and was the personal coach for Spring at the Olympics.

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