Former Lewisville student describes mistreatment by coach

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on October 21, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 23 at 11:56 AM

LEWISVILLE - It is his dream to play professional basketball.

That's why 16-year-old Cesar Landin left his home in Mexico and moved in with a Lewisville High School coach to further his career.

But a month later, Landin is back home and his former coach Theodore Berry is under arrest, charged with trafficking the teen, forcing him to sell popcorn to make money.

Lewisville police say Berry recruited Landin during a basketball tournament in 2008.

Three years later, the Lewisville assistant basketball coach, worked out an agreement with his family to move him to Texas and live with Berry.

Police said Berry promised Landin a spot on a select basketball team, but instead the teenager says he spent his afternoons after school and weekends selling gourmet popcorn.

"One day I made $700," Landin told News 8.

The teenager said Berry would force him to work after school and spend up to eight hours a day on the weekend selling popcorn.

If he refused, police records say Berry threatened to hurt him, and on one occasion did.

"He pushed me one time and I fell through the wall," Landin said.

His parents knew of the problems, but when they received frantic text messages one afternoon from their frightened son, Landin's father, Cesar Landin, Sr., said he hopped in his truck and drove 16 hours from his home in Aguascauentes, Mexico to Lewisville.

"I felt like I had to rescue him from the abuse of Mr. Berry," the father said, "I felt like my son wasn't safe with him."

Police records say Landin paid Berry $2,000 and gave him guardianship of his son, who lived with Berry in his apartment.

Lewisville schools hired Theodore Berry in August. He was an assistant basketball coach for the boy's junior varsity team, but was placed on leave after his arrest.

"It's unconscionable," said district spokesperson Karen Permetti. "We put [Berry] on leave and [are] beginning the termination process. Also we recognize this was a really bad hire."

Berry has not returned any of News 8's e-mails or Facebook posts.

We tried to contact him at his apartment, but Berry recently moved out.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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