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American Ninja Warrior champ Drew Drechsel has been charged with sex crimes involving a minor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey announced Tuesday.
Drechsel, 31, of Saint Cloud, Florida, was charged with the manufacture of child pornography, enticement of a minor to travel for illicit sexual conduct, travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and use of interstate commerce to entice a minor, according to authorities. He made his initial court appearance Tuesday.
According to the complaint, Drechsel, the 2019 American Ninja Warrior champion (also a “mentor” for multiple seasons on American Ninja Warrior Junior) allegedly sought to have sex with a female minor and traveled to New Jersey to do so. In addition, Drechsel “enticed and coerced a minor to travel to Connecticut to engage in illicit sexual conduct and engaged in online sexual communications with a minor and induced her to manufacture sexually explicit images of herself and send them to Drechsel.”
Specifically, Drechsel is accused of having a sexual relationship beginning in 2015 with a then-15-year-old girl, which started in in Hamden, Connecticut. The first alleged incident took place in his gym. A number of sexual incidents involving the same victim also allegedly took place in New Jersey over a span of years, according to the complaint. The victim filed a police report in June 2019.
Drechsel’s lawyer, Frank J. Riccio II, issued a statement on Twitter. “Mr. Drechsel is presumed innocent of the charges and that presumption will remain throughout the pendency of his case. He intends on entering a ‘not guilty’ plea.”
The use of interstate commerce to entice count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to authorities. The count of enticement to travel for illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The count of travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and the count of manufacture of child pornography carries a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison. All of the counts also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 per count, according to authorities.
NBC said in a statement Wednesday Drechsel had been dropped from the show. “We are shocked and disturbed to learn about the charges alleged against Drew Drechsel,” reads the statement. “American Ninja Warrior is a family show that has inspired countless people, and we will not let the actions of one contestant tarnish the hard work and amazing stories of so many. Moving forward, the American Ninja Warrior brand will sever all ties with Mr. Drechsel, including his appearance on future seasons of the show.”
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