Fort Worth Gymnastics Coach Arrested, Accused of Child Sex Abuse

All of the alleged victims were under 14 years old

An elite North Texas gymnastics coach was arrested in Indiana after being accused of sexually assaulting three girls at a Fort Worth gym, police said Thursday.

Skipper Glenn Crawley, described as an elite-level team gymnastics coach, is accused of sexually assaulting the victims at Sokol gymnastics in Fort Worth, police said. Authorities arrested him on Wednesday after executing a warrant at an Indianapolis residence. He is being held at an Indiana jail, pending extradition.

Crawley, a former assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, had been wanted for the continuous sexual abuse of a child, along with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

According to the arrest warrants, the alleged incidents occurred between March 2017 and April 2018. All of the alleged victims were under 14 years old.

Court records show that the three victims accused Crawley of touching their genitalia, including one who said the coach touched her while he helped her stretch. That victim also reported the coach would make "inappropriate remarks," commenting that he would want to snuggle or sleep with her, according to an affidavit. She also told authorities Crawley said he wanted to get married and that she was his girlfriend, the affidavit says.

Another victim reported Crawley had inappropriately touched her multiple times and would call her back to his office while other girls were conditioning, according to an affidavit.

The court records say police were notified of the sexual assaults in April.

Russell Prince, an attorney for the board that runs the gym, said Crawley was suspended from the gym this spring. The same day the gym's general manager received word of an allegation, Crawley was pulled from the gym floor, made aware of the allegation and escorted out of the building, according to Prince.

"The gym is behaving as if the allegations are true," he said, noting that general manager also contacted police. Prince described Crawley as a high-level team gymnastics coach, and said the coach was not fleeing authorities in Indiana but was there on a planned visit.

"You know children are so innocent sometimes that they don't know how to express when abuse has taken place, specifically to their bodies," explained Fort Worth Police Public Information Officer Buddy Calzada.

Prince, who doesn't represent Crawley, said the coach was invited to Indiana to speak to group of gym owners about the topic sexual abuse, and that he spoke from the perspective of what it's like to be falsely accused.

"There's more to the story," Prince said. "There's no reason to believe, nothing to suggest, that it is actually true. The allegations are specious, at best."

USA Gymnastics issued the following statement early Friday morning:

"USA Gymnastics cannot comment publicly on membership matters unless an action taken involves a public result, such as being placed on the list of individuals whose membership is suspended or who is permanently ineligible for membership. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has the exclusive authority to handle sexual misconduct matters for the entire U.S. Olympic movement (including gymnastics). The membership of Skip "Skipper" Crawley was suspended at the direction of the U.S. Center for SafeSport."

The arrest comes weeks after Texas prosecutors filed sexual assault charges against former sports doctor Larry Nassar and a trainer who worked at his side, broadening the worst abuse scandal in U.S. sports history beyond Michigan.

Nassar was charged with sexually assaulting six minors in Walker County, Texas, where U.S. Olympic gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi had a ranch that was used as a training site for Olympians.

In Michigan earlier this year, Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women accused him of molesting them.

Prince said Sokol Gymnastics of Fort Worth did everything it was supposed to do to protect children and welcomes the police investigation, but believes the case of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who admitted to abusing gymnasts over the years, has "cast a wide net".

"Seeing it nationally and saying that has happened to me, I don't know if that's what led these children to be able to come forward," said Calzada. "My biggest concern is that that child is going to be OK."

NBC 5's Noelle Walker contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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