An 11-year-old girl stepped in to protect her friend from a Virginia gymnastics coach who touched her inappropriately, according to the Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.
A jury found the coach, 44-year-old Brian Dinh Nguyen of Sterling, guilty of aggravated sexual battery last week.
The victim, also 11, was celebrating her friend's birthday Dec. 2 at a gymnastics facility where Nguyen repeatedly touched her inappropriately, according to the prosecution. She told her friend, who intervened to stop Nguyen.
"The defendant was there to ensure the safety of all of the children, to be a protector," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Meredith M. Burke told the jury during the trial. "Instead, he became a predator, and when the victim turned to her 11-year-old friend for help, her friend did something that no child should ever have to do and stepped into the role of the protector.”
On their way home, the girls told their parents.
“The defendant picked a child whom he thought was weak and who wouldn’t say anything," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joshua P. Steward told the jury during sentencing. "Fortunately for all of us, he chose poorly. The victim, while quiet and reserved, was courageous enough to recognize what he was doing and turn to her friend for help, and together they have helped us bring a child predator to justice.”
Nguyen had a previous assault and battery conviction, the prosecution said.
The jury recommended a sentence of six years in prison and a $11,000 fine. Formal sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 11.
Nguyen will also be required to register as a violent sex offender for the rest of his life.