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Ex-gymnastics coach's bail set at $550,000
By Hafsa Naz Mahmood | Daily Herald Staff

Michael P. Cardamone


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Published: 1/2/2009 3:10 PM | Updated: 1/2/2009 6:12 PM

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A former Aurora gymnastics coach accused of fondling female students could be released on bond as he awaits a new trial.

Michael Cardamone appeared Friday morning before DuPage County Circuit Judge Blanche Hill Fawell seeking a new bond, which was set at $550,000. Of that amount, $50,000 is related to new perjury charges filed against Cardamone two weeks ago.

He had not posted bail as of Friday evening.

The 32-year-old Cardamone has been behind bars at the DuPage County jail in Wheaton despite an appeals court ruling that he be given a new trial on the molestation charges because the previous judge allowed too much "uncharged" evidence.

Cardamone's family members said they don't have the money needed to post $55,000 bail - 10 percent of the bond amount.

"My brother's been in jail for four-and-a-half years, and I can't get him out today," said Alysha Millard, Cardamone's sister.

If Cardamone posts bail, he will be required to stay at his mother's house in Oswego. Other conditions include no contact with any unrelated minors and no firearms in the residence in which he resides.

Cardamone's attorney, Joseph Laraia, urged the court to set bond between $50,000 to $100,000 so the family can post the 10 percent bail. His effort was unsuccessful.

"Are we pleased the court set a bond? Yes," he said. "Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to get him home."

Cardamone was convicted in 2005 of fondling seven girls under his tutelage at his family's Aurora gym. The jury acquitted him of charges involving seven other girls. He received a 20-year sentence.

Prosecutors charged the coach with fondling 14 of them beneath their leotards, usually during stretching exercises. Prosecutors painted Cardamone as a serial child molester who methodically manipulated his gymnasts so the young girls endured repeated abuse rather than betray him.

The defense called gymnasts, parents and teachers and said it all began with the first girl's wild imagination, spread through gossip and developed into false memories because of suggestive questioning.

Millard said the case stems from a politically motivated state's attorney who has put the truth aside and made winning a priority.

"A witch hunt is taking place against Michael and others around him," his sister said, "keeping him from proving his innocence."

Legal Affairs Writer Christy Gutowski contributed to this story