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The winner of NBC’s 'American Ninja Warrior' Drew Drechsel has been taken into custody. Here's what we know about his crimes.

Is Drew Drechsel of ‘American Ninja Warrior’ fame a sexual predator?

Drew Drechsel has been charged with numerous child sex crimes. The winner of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior was taken into custody earlier this month after reportedly seeking out sex with a minor and encouraging her to send him sexually explicit images.

Dreschel met the alleged victim at an event attended by numerous American Ninja Warrior contestants in 2014. According to law enforcement, Drechsel maintained contact with her and eventually coerced her into traveling to his gym in Hamden, Connecticut. While there, they had sex behind a warped wall obstacle that features prominently in the NBC competition.

The victim informed her mother, who proceeded to confront Drechsel and inform him that her daughter was only fifteen years old. The victim’s mother told authorities that Drechsel “did not deny the sexual activity, but rather stated he did not know her age at the time.” 

Coercion tactics

The victim made an official complaint to New Jersey police in 2019, claiming she & Drechsel had multiple sexual encounters when she was between the ages of 15 & 17 and was coerced into “manufacturing sexually explicit images” of herself for Drechsel’s personal use.

Dreschel was arrested in Florida on August 4th. Miami Herald reported law enforcement found explicit videos & images of the victim on Dreschel’s phone, as well as Skype logs dating back several years. The criminal complaint filed against Drechsel stated he often directed the victim to perform sexual acts in front of the camera over the web.

The athlete was charged with enticement of a minor to travel for illicit sexual conduct, use of interstate commerce to entice a minor, travel with intent to engage in illicit conduct with a minor, and manufacturing child pornography. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of twenty to thirty years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

Child pornography charges

Drechsel’s attorney Frank J. Ricco II issued a statement on Twitter proclaiming his client’s innocence. “Mr. Drechsel is presumed innocent of the charges and that presumption will remain throughout the pendency of his case,” he wrote. “He intends on entering a ‘not guilty’ plea.”

Ricco also requested Drechsel’s family be left in peace for the duration of the trial: “It is respectfully requested that you respect the privacy of Mr. Dreschel [sic] and his family.” 

Drechsel’s charges have cast a sinister light over his career as an athlete & TV personality. He’s been a participant on American Ninja Warrior since 2011 and has appeared in most of the show’s numerous specials & spinoffs. Drechsel took home $1 million after winning the season 11 competition, becoming only the second contestant to complete all four stages of the obstacle course. 

Drechsel had already wrapped up filming on the upcoming season of American Ninja Warrior when he was taken into custody. He was also serving as a mentor on American Ninja Warrior Junior, where he interacted with children between the ages of nine & fourteen.

 

Severing ties

NBC has severed ties with Drechsel and plans to cut all of his filmed segments from the show’s upcoming season. The network asserted their intolerant stance regarding the athlete in a statement obtained by USA Today.

“We are shocked and disturbed to learn about the charges alleged against Drew Drechsel,” the statement reads. “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,” the network added.

The start date for Drechsel’s trial has not yet been announced.

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  • I wish that I could tell you that I believe this isn’t true, but the problem of people (women as well as men) believing they have the right to sexually dominate minors isn’t new, and it covers all levels of society. Whatever else anyone believes, most sexual predators do not believe they are doing anything wrong. To them, it’s a right, one that doesn’t see the damage they do to others; somewhere along the line they decided that they could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. In the charges against Dreschel, this attitude is evinced by his reaction to the mother of the girl–he shrugged it off, saying he didn’t know how old she was. That shows a callousness that is almost beyond comprehension, a metaphorical mental shrug that said it didn’t matter. NBC did the right thing, especially considering that he had sex with the girl behind a warped wall, and he was a mentor for kids in the Ninja Junior competition; another factor had to be the way he was presented when he was going for the win he eventually achieved: showing his fiancee and their new baby, presenting the whole happy family image, which has been shown to be false. Whatever his fate, he has to realize that he will never again be able to portray himself as an all-American guy, devoted to training and being with his family.

    November 1, 2020

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