A volunteer gymnastics coach in Missouri is accused of molesting at least six young girls, police tell The Daily Beast.
David Schneider, 41, has been charged with three felony counts of child molestation for allegedly touching the genitals of 7- to 8-year-old girls who were practicing splits at a gym in town. Since Schneider’s arrest on Tuesday, at least three other accusations were reported, said Washington, Missouri police Sgt. Steve Sitzes on Wednesday.
Sitzes told The Daily Beast the first of the six victims to come forward told a teacher, who went to police, about three weeks ago in the 14,000-person town.
“At this point we haven’t even begun returning phone calls from concerned parents,” Sitzes told the Associated Press.
The girl said Schneider “used his hand to go under her shorts and grab the area of her vagina over her leotard” on multiple occasions, reports The Washington Missourian. All of the alleged crimes occurred between 2011 and 2014, but she told authorities that she hadn’t realized that what Schneider was doing to her was wrong until recently. The second young victim told police that Schneider touched her under her leotard.
Schneider reportedly admitted to inappropriately touching some of the young girls but said it was unintentional and that the girls’ sweating caused his hands to slip because it was a “wet environment,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
The news comes barely a week after former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to a maximum of 275 years in prison for sexually assaulting ten girls and possessing child pornography. More than 250 girls, however, claim they were abused by him over the years.
Schneider was honored in 2015 with a local “Friend of Youth” award for his comprehensive work as a volunteer swimming and gymnastics coach, the Missourian reports.
Sitzes said Schneider, a married father, is locally known for his work as a volunteer coach at the Kids in Motion gym and as a swim coach at the YMCA and other facilities for more than 15 years, where he largely worked with young children. The YMCA told the Associated Press that no allegations were ever made against him there.
Sitzes said authorities are also looking into Schneider’s behavior at past facilities—as well as educating parents about how to talk to their children about such crimes.
Piper Hoemann, the owner of Kids in Motion gym, posted on the company’s website that she feels “deep sorry” for the “brave gymnasts” who were victims of Schneider. She also posted a list of safety precautions currently in place at the facility.
Sitzes told The Daily Beast that Schneider has no prior criminal history. According to local reports, the coach is still jailed on a $100,000 bond.