LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Authorities are searching for more possible victims of a gold-medal winning Olympic boxer and coach accused of sexually assaulting a girl under the age 14 who attended an East Los Angeles gym where he taught.
In a news conference Friday morning, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said that 53-year-old Paul Gonzales sexually assaulted a student he befriended and groomed at the Eddie Heredia Boxing Club on East Olympic Boulevard, where he has been a head coach for about 10 years.
Gonzales, a father, was arrested Dec. 29 on four counts of committing lewd acts on a child under age 14 and one count each of attempted lewd act upon a child, possession of child or youth pornography, distributing or showing pornography to a minor and contact with a minor for a sexual offense.
Investigators believe there may be more victims who have yet to come forward.
“Mr. Gonzalez has worked at the gym for a long period of time, and had access to lots of children, specifically females during that time. We’re very concerned that we have more victims out there,” Sheriff’s Lt. Todd Deeds said at a morning news conference.
In 1984, Gonzales became the first American Latino man to win Olympic gold, earning the medal in the light flyweight category for boxing. A short documentary made by Trans World Sport in 2014 tracked his rise as a child who broke free from gangs to becoming a youth mentor.
The Eddie Heredia Boxing Club is part of the L.A. County Parks and Recreation Department, which issued the following statement Friday:
“There is zero tolerance for employee misconduct within our department. We are fully cooperating with the investigation. The Department will take appropriate and swift action to ensure the continued protection of our guests.”
Adrian Villanueva, a fellow boxing instructor who taught with Gonzales at the gym, expressed his astonishment at the charges Thursday.
“This is shocking, it’s surprising,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva said he never noticed anything suspicious with Gonzales and the students.
“He’s a good coach. He’s always here for the kids and, you know, anyone who needs advice.”
Gonzales is being held at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $545,000 bail. He is expected to appear in court on Jan. 18.
Anyone with information regarding the case is urged to call the LASD Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.