Coach accused of molesting female gymnasts in Missouri
WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) — A volunteer gymnastics coach in Missouri is accused of inappropriately touching three young female gymnasts, and police are concerned there are more victims.
David Schneider, 41, of Washington, Missouri, was charged Tuesday with three counts of child molestation. The children alleged that Schneider touched their genitals while working with them as they practiced doing splits at the Kids in Motion gym in Washington, 50 miles west of St. Louis. Authorities said the crimes occurred between 2011 and 2014, when the victims were 7 or 8 years old.
Schneider, a married father, is jailed on $100,000 bond and does not have a listed attorney.
Parents of three additional girls have already contacted police alleging similar crimes, and it’s possible the number of victims could grow, police Sgt. Steve Sitzes said Wednesday.
“At this point we haven’t even begun returning phone calls from concerned parents,” Sitzes said.
Franklin County prosecutor Robert Parks said it wasn’t clear if the victims’ decision to come forward was spurred by publicity surrounding Larry Nassar. The disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician will spend the rest of his life behind bars for sexually abusing more than 250 women and girls.
In a probable cause statement, police said Schneider admitted to inappropriate touching but claimed his hands slipped because the girls were sweaty. He also said he didn’t change his technique despite the repeated slipping of his hands.
One of the girls said she thought the touching was “weird” at the time, but didn’t realize it was wrong until recently. That girl, now in middle school, told an adult at the school on Jan. 9, leading to the investigation.
Kids in Motion owner Piper Hoemann posted on the gym’s website that she feels “deep sorrow” for the victims. She cited a long list of precautions at the gym aimed at keeping children safe, including prohibiting coaches and volunteers from hugging them. She said no coach is ever allowed to be alone with a gymnast.
Schneider also volunteered as a swim coach at the YMCA in Washington. The YMCA said no allegations were ever made against him.
The Washington Missourian reported that Schneider was honored in 2015 by the Optimist Club with its Friend of Youth Award for his work as a volunteer swimming and gymnastics coach.