Coach pleads guilty to sexual assault of gymnast

Updated: September 19, 2006, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- A former coach at an elite gymnastics academy was sentenced to 15 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

Christopher Wagoner was accused of fondling and raping the girl in 2002 and 2003, when he was her coach. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual assault. Each charge carries a 15-year penalty, which he will serve concurrently.

The girl's family filed a lawsuit this month alleging the 33-year-old Wagoner repeatedly assaulted the girl and encouraged her to use cocaine to lose weight.

The lawsuit also accuses the owners of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, which produced Olympic gold medalist Carly Patterson and two-time national champion champion Nastia Liukin, of failing to screen and supervise the coach. The suit does not seek a specific amount of money from the academy owners and doesn't accuse them of abuse.

Bill Boyd, the gym's attorney, has said all instructors receive a criminal background check and the gym was not aware of any accusations until a police investigation in 2005, after Wagoner had left.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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