DA drops case against USA Skateboarding's Neal Hendrix
The Orange County district attorney is declining to pursue a case against USA Skateboarding executive committee member Neal Hendrix after allegations of improper sexual contact with a then-14-year-old skateboarder.
"The case has been rejected (as of yesterday) as it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said Friday in a statement emailed to espnW.
Professional skateboarder Julie Lynn Kindstrand Nelson, 25, who goes by "Julz Lynn," provided the Costa Mesa (California) Police Department with a six-page letter on Oct. 11 describing alleged interactions with Hendrix. The letter, also provided to espnW, states that when Kindstrand Nelson was between the ages of 14 and 15 and Hendrix was in his early 30s, she performed sex acts on him at his request. The letter also states that he masturbated in front of her, photographed and took videos of her while she was naked and showed her pornography involving underage girls.
In an email to The Wall Street Journal last month, Hendrix said, "The claims are 100 percent false."
Police passed the results of their investigation to the district attorney Nov. 2. Hendrix was placed on an interim suspension by USA Skateboarding after the allegations. The U.S. Center for SafeSport also placed Hendrix on interim suspension on Oct. 19 for "allegations of misconduct."
Hendrix didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
"I haven't received any notification," Kindstrand Nelson told ESPN on Friday. "I am very surprised. I would like to hear from them myself why they made this decision.
"My next step is waiting to hear from the detective of district attorney's office. Until then, it's not real."
A spokeswoman for SafeSport said it's the Center's policy not to comment on specific cases. According to SafeSport's code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement, alleged conduct may be a violation "even if the responding party is not charged, prosecuted or convicted for the behavior that constitutes a potential violation of the code, is acquitted of a criminal charge, or legal authorities decline to prosecute."
A spokeswoman from USA Skateboarding said the organization stands behind its statement from Oct. 24, when it said it was "fully cooperating" with SafeSport's investigation.
"The safety of the athletes, staff and board members is our number one priority, and we support SafeSport's decision of an interim suspension while the investigation is being conducted," USA Skateboarding said last month.
Hendrix has been an integral figure in skateboarding's entry into the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The pro skateboarder, who won multiple X Games medals in vert skateboarding in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is the worldwide brand manager for the action sports and gymnastics company Camp Woodward, which is owned by POWDR Corp., one of the largest ski resort operations in North America. On his LinkedIn profile, Hendrix lists himself as a professional photographer and a color commentator for the Vans Park Series. He has also worked as a skateboard broadcast commentator for NBC, ESPN, Red Bull and CBS Sports Network.
According to the spokeswoman for the district attorney, the standard for filing a case is that the evidence will support the charge or charges and can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. She said the office is not able to comment further because the case was rejected.