The civil trial unfolded at the Marin County Civic Center, a national landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, where part of the 1997 sci-fi movie “Gattaca” was filmed. And though Burgos, 58, remains in prison after recently losing an appeal, his presence was inescapable inside the intimately circular courtroom, where the jury box, witness stand and lawyers’ tables were arranged in a crescent moon, so participants could always see one another.
One prospective juror was excused after saying that years ago, when he was a student and walking home from school, Burgos tried to lure him into his car. Stevie Gould, a former Burgos protégé whose secret recording of the disgraced coach admitting to having sex with a minor led to Burgos’s arrest, sat in the gallery twice to support Harrison.
But at the heart of the case was Harrison, now 36, who disclosed that he still has nightmares and panic attacks, and has seen numerous medical professionals for treatment.
As a Tamalpais High School student, Harrison said he feared reporting Burgos, who was also a popular gym teacher, because he had so much to lose. Yet when he went to the police, in college, he was mocked and scorned by a community that fiercely believed Burgos.
“I just felt like it was so wrong to be portrayed that way in a courtroom,” he said. “It just felt like a circus, in terms of all these people, all these people I thought were friends, once upon a time on the tennis team, the parents, my teachers, people who had given me recommendations for a school.”
Jurors this spring also heard from six contemporaries of Harrison’s — including five who were coming forward for the first time — with similar harrowing experiences.