A former assistant football coach who installed a hidden camera in a Los Osos High School girls locker room was sentenced to nine years and four months in state prison Friday, Nov. 18.

David Riden, 54, pleaded guilty to three felony charges for possessing more than 600 images of child pornography and for secretly photographing minors in October. He will be registered for life as a sex offender, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

Court records indicate his sentence will be reduced by 904 days — roughly 2 1/2 years — for the time he has served since his arrest in August 2021.

Police arrested Riden after a school employee found the camera, which was disguised as a phone charger. A search of his electronics uncovered the recordings.

Riden was hired by the district in 2015 and worked as a boys locker room attendant and assistant varsity football coach until his arrest.

The District Attorney’s Office recommended the nine-year sentence as part of a plea deal with Riden. The prosecution dismissed 29 other charges in exchange for him agreeing to plead guilty.

In a statement in October, a spokesperson said the agreement ensured “Riden is held accountable for his crimes and the victims will not have to endure a potentially lengthy trial and any further emotional trauma.”

Investigators believe 21 girls were secretly photographed from 2015 to 2021, though multiple civil lawsuits filed against the Chaffey Joint Union High School District suggest that number might be higher. At least half a dozen cases have been filed so far. One lawsuit alleges “hundreds or thousands of minor girls” may have been victimized as a result.

At a press conference following the sentencing, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 48 victims in just one of the lawsuits, called the sentence against Riden “very disappointing” to both the parents and students impacted.

“Many parents and their daughters have been on an emotional roller coaster and they feel, and still feel, that he should have been sentenced to more time,” Allred said. “They are still seeking answers to many questions that they have.”

Allred said now that the criminal case has been resolved, her firm expects to begin discovery in their civil lawsuit. The victims do not know how long the camera had been installed, whether the school received any complaints that should have tipped them off about the assistant coach in advance or if Riden shared the recordings online, she said.

“I think the truth is as important to the victims and their parents as any form of compensation,” she said.

Student Jordyn Stotts, one of Allred’s clients who has decided to identify herself, said Riden’s actions have made it difficult for her to trust anyone. She now suffers from anxiety and depression, she said.

“Once I was a girl who could take on anything,” she said. “Now I am a girl who is scared and who doesn’t know what to do.”

Allred, Stotts and attorney John West, a partner at Allred’s firm, placed part of the blame on the district, saying school officials not only failed to prevent the invasion of privacy, but also did not do enough to protect the students after the camera was discovered.

Stotts said some students, including football players, mocked the victims following the arrests. Meanwhile, staff did not have the training to manage the emotional aftermath as the victims returned to their classes.

“The way that the school addressed the situation, they didn’t do it in a manner where students could really grieve and understand what the victims went through,” she said.

West said it remains unclear how much the district knew and when.

“We know that there were systemic failures on the part of the school that would detected Riden’s recording devices if they had taken reasonable care,” he said. “Did the school fail our kids? Definitely.”

California

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