An Olympic gold medalist and youth boxing coach in East Los Angeles pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of molesting one of his students and possessing child pornography.
Paul Gonzales, 53, was charged this month with eight felony counts, including four counts of committing lewd acts upon a 13-year-old girl, prosecutors said. His bail has been set at $545,000.
Prosecutors say Gonzales groomed one of his young students and molested her before a family member reported the misconduct in December.
Gonzales won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. He’s been a boxing coach for the last 10 years at the Eddie Heredia Boxing Club, which is operated by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department.
He was arrested Dec. 29 and is being held at Men’s Central Jail. He was still employed by the county at the time he was first charged but was no longer being paid, said Terry Kanakri, a spokesman for the parks agency.
The victim was molested between May 1 and Aug. 9 of last year, according to Gonzales’ felony complaint.
Gonzales coached youths 8 to 19 years old, said Lt. Todd Deeds of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau. At any given time there are 40 boys and 15 girls enrolled in the boxing club’s programs, he said.
Deeds said investigators are also looking into whether any adults at the club knew about the acts Gonzales is accused of or protected him.
Kanakri said Gonzales was a full-time employee who coached boys and girls at the center every day. Gonzales was hired in 2007.
Gonzales faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted.
Times staff writer Maya Lau contributed to this report.
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