SANTA CRUZ -- A 39-year-old Santa Cruz surf instructor and business owner is expected to serve nearly two years in prison after he pleaded no contest to 25 counts of lewd acts with two underage girls, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Dylan David Greiner was sentenced to three years in state prison, but he has already served more than one year in Santa Cruz County Jail and received credit for good behavior. He will serve 713 days in prison, or about 23 months, said prosecutor Rafael Vazquez.
"His conduct is undoubtedly egregious and caused irreparable emotional damage," Vazquez said of Greiner.
At his hearing in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on Tuesday, Greiner turned to family and friends of the victims with red-rimmed eyes and said he prayed that they would forgive him.
"I know what I did was wrong. It's hard for me to live with what I did ... and my bad decisions," Greiner said quietly, adding that he had been reborn through Jesus Christ.
"I don't know why I threw away all my blessings ... People that I care about hate me, and I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life." Greiner owned Santa Cruz Surf School at 131 Center St., in Santa Cruz, and police in August 2013 accused him of secretly filming girls in a changing room of the school.
Authorities also accused Greiner of grabbing a 15-year-old girl's buttocks at Depot Park in Santa Cruz and photographing her after her top fell off on a trip to the Garden of Eden swimming hole off Highway 9 in Felton. Months later at Natural Bridges State Beach, Greiner hugged her and "slid his hands over her buttocks" over her swimsuit and "held on to it for a while," according to court documents.
Advertisement After the girl came forward to police, authorities searched Greiner's home on Modesto Avenue in Santa Cruz where he lived with a woman and her 14-year-old daughter. Prosecutors said he massaged the back and legs of the girl, and Greiner eventually pleaded to charges related to that.
Greiner also admitted to a detective that he made secret video recordings of the girl in his home, and police found on his computer a trove of surreptitiously recorded videos of girls at the beach and in the changing room of his surf school, authorities said.
Police also found child pornography downloaded from the Internet, but none of the children in it were from Santa Cruz County, Vazquez said. That find eventually led to felony charges to which Greiner pleaded no contest, .
After news of his arrest broke, the scope of the police inquiry widened as Santa Cruz police fielded calls from hundreds of parents whose children attended the popular surf school. Greiner was never charged with having sex with any underage girls.
Tuesday in court, Greiner appeared in orange jail clothes and with hair much shorter than the long blond hair he had upon his arrest. Before a courtroom gallery of nearly 30 people, he pleaded no contest to felony and misdemeanor charges that included filming, photographing and inappropriately touching underage girls, attorneys said.
Judge Timothy Volkmann said he received dozens of letters from those in support of Greiner and in support of the victims. Five people, including two victims' mothers, a court advocate and Greiner's two sisters spoke at the sentencing.
The mother of the girl who reported the crime read a statement, saying her daughter had empowered others to come forward by doing what she did. She also shared guilt at not knowing initially what happened between Greiner and her daughter.
"He was harming her even as I was unknowingly encouraging (his friendship), and that is something I will have to live with," the mother said.
In a statement read by a court advocate, another victim said she has trouble feeling beautiful and trusting those who show an interest in her, five years after incidents with Greiner first happened.
"Instead of my first love, I got this," the victim said in a statement. "There is no before and after. There is only this." Greiner's attorney, Kellin Cooper, asked the judge for a sentence of probation rather than prison time.
Prosecutor Rafael Vazquez initially said the charges against Greiner could net 10 years in prison. On Tuesday, he said outside court that the defense's efforts to have Greiner receive only probation or probation and a County Jail sentence would not suffice.
"There is a definite need to show that this is something that's not going to be allowed in our community," Vazquez said in court.
Volkmann sentenced him to 3 years in state prison, but good behavior in jail and time served essentially counted toward less time in prison. Volkmann cited Greiner's violation of community trust and a level of pre-planning and sophistication as reasons why he supported the stronger of the proposed sentences.
Greiner was ordered to pay more than $2,000 in restitution to the victims and must register as a sex offender, according to the ruling. He also was ordered to stay away from the two victims for 10 years.
Upon his arrest on Aug. 17, 2013, Greiner admitted to some of his charges and penned an apology, police said. His surf school on Center Street remained quiet on Tuesday, as it has been shuttered for months.