Courtney Kiehl

Sex Offenders Coach U.S. Gymnasts

Courtney Kiehl
Sex Offenders Coach U.S. Gymnasts

Rachel Nichols, a correspondent at "E:60," the newsmagazine on ABC News' sister network ESPN, has discovered that despite background checks, sex offenders could be working closely with young children and you would never know it.

Robert Shawler, a coach working in Fremont, Calif., helped Courtney Kiehl become one of the nation's top gymnasts, guiding every aspect of her development.

"You're trusting your coach like with your life. And when you're spending so much time with someone, you're sharing just like everything, who you are with this person," said Kiehl.

In 2002, when Kiehl was 12, Shawler stole all her dreams of glory in just one moment.

"It was a morning practice, and we were stretching. I was a little sore that day so he was helping me with some extra stretches and the next thing I felt was his hand underneath my leotard," said Kiehl.

Shawler was finally caught in 2003, after a few of his victims finally started talking to each other. He pleaded no contest to two counts of child molestation, ultimately serving three years in state prison.

Steve Penny is the head of USA Gymnastics, which governs the amateur side of the sport.

"We have a very good record of addressing those issues, investigating those issues and dealing with individuals who have not really subscribed to our highest standards. All of our professional members are now required to have a background check. So, we've been doing this now since last fall and we've already been able to process a third of our membership," said Penn.

But not every coach is a professional member of USA Gymnastics, so not every coach is subjected to the new background check policy, and even those who are, are only subject to limited scrutiny.

An "E:60" investigation revealed that several USA Gymnastics member gyms employed coaches charged with crimes.