A volunteer gymnastics coach has been charged with child molestation after former students at a Missouri gym came forward alleging he touched them inappropriately.
David Schneider, 41, was charged with three felony counts of first-degree child molestation on Tuesday by police in Washington, Missouri. He was accused of inappropriately touching girls while they were stretching during incidents at the Kids in Motion gym between 2011 and 2014, according to court documents.
One accuser told police on Jan. 9 that Schneider would spot her during a gymnastics maneuver called “oversplits,” and she recently realized that what he did to her was wrong, The Washington Missourian reported.
Schneider told police his hands slipped and he touched the girls in inappropriate places because it was a “wet environment” and the girls were sweaty, according to arrest documents.
Since Schneider’s arrest, at least three other accusers have come forward, police Sgt. Steve 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,” the news site reported, citing Sitzes.
Schneider volunteered at Kids in Motion from the fall of 2011 until the fall of 2014, court documents say.
Washington Detective Betsey Schulze said she couldn’t say whether the Missouri victims were inspired to come forward by publicity surrounding the recent sentencing of disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor Larry Nassar.
“I can’t comment on what made them come forward, I can only confirm that they did,” Schulze told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young athletes under the guise of medical treatment and is serving a series of long prison sentences that judges said will keep him locked up for life. More than 250 girls and young women have accused him of abusing them.
Schneider was recognized by the Washington Optimist Club in 2015 with a Friend of the Youth Award, and was cited for his work with the swim team and as a gymnastics coach at Kids in Motion during the award presentation, according to The Washington Missourian.
He was jailed on a $100,000 cash-only bond.