Drew Drechsel, winner of season 11 of NBC’s competitive show “American Ninja Warrior,” was arrested and charged Tuesday with seeking sex with an underage girl and instigating her to send him sexually explicit images, the New Jersey district attorney’s office announced.
Authorities say Drechsel, 31, traveled to New Jersey to have sex with a minor. He also allegedly “instigated and coerced” the minor to travel to Connecticut “to engage in illicit sexual behavior”, allegedly had inappropriate communication with her and convinced her to send him sexually explicit images of herself. even, according to a complaint. The events mentioned in the complaint took place from approximately January 2015 to December 2016 and began when the minor was 14 years old after the two met at an “American Ninja Warrior” event.
The minor told her mother about her experience with Drechsel after he allegedly had sex with her in July 2015, after which the mother confronted Drechsel, who “did not deny the sexual activity, but instead said that he didn’t know his age at the time. According to the complaint.
The two met on multiple occasions and stayed in touch until 2019, according to the complaint. In June of last year, the minor filed a police report when she was 19. The complaint says the victim “threatened to harm herself” if her mother called the police beforehand.
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Drechsel has been charged on a cumulative basis with manufacturing child pornography, inducing a minor to travel for illicit sexual behavior, traveling with intent to engage in illicit sex with a minor and using interstate commerce. to attract a minor. He first appeared in Florida Middle District court on Tuesday.
Authorities said they found several sexually explicit photos of the victim while she was underage on her phone during their investigation.
Representatives for Drechsel, including his attorney, Frank J. Riccio II, did not immediately respond to NBC News requests for comment. However, Riccio tweeted that Drechsel intended to plead “not guilty”.
“Sir. Drechsel is presumed innocent of the charges and this presumption will remain for the duration of his trial, ”Riccio wrote. You are respectfully requested to respect the privacy of Mr. Drechsel and his family. ”
Drechsel won the final season of “American Ninja Warrior” and also served as a mentor on “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” a spin-off show featuring children ages 9 to 14 as contestants.
A spokesperson for NBCUniversal, which is also the parent company of NBC News, said in a statement on Tuesday that the network was “shocked and disturbed to learn of the charges against Drew Drechsel” and would sever ties with him .
“American Ninja Warrior is a family show that has inspired countless people, and we won’t let the actions of a competitor tarnish the hard work and incredible stories of so many,” the spokesperson said. “In the future, the American brand Ninja Warrior will sever all ties with Mr. Drechsel, including his appearance on future seasons of the series.
Dreschel is also a co-owner of Real Life Ninja Academy, a collection of gyms located in New York and Connecticut.