Michael Skupin is speaking out for the first time since last week’s arrest – and the reality star vigorously maintains his innocence.
Skupin, a two-time Survivor contestant, faces 11 criminal charges, including possession of child pornography and racketeering. He was arrested last Friday.
In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, Skupin, 54, says he was “wrongfully accused” and vows to fight against the charges. He also tells PEOPLE that this is the only statement he will issue while the legal case is pending.
Below is his statement in its entirety.
I’m not even sure what to say. I’m more shocked by this than anyone.
Sadly, our media doesn’t subscribe to ‘innocent until proven.’ I truly am prayerfully optimistic in our justice system and will fight this with all that I am. Thank you to those who continue to believe in me. I am the guy that you think that I am.
There are scores of people that have been wrongfully accused at some point in their life – including our Savior. I’m leaning on Him in faith to walk beside me through this darkness and staying strong for all of those people.
Thank you for all of your messages of love and support. You have no idea what they have meant to me and my family.
My whole life has been kids: my kids, my family and anyone who ever needed help in any way. I’ve traveled the globe working with millions of kids both one-on-one, at schools, camps and assemblies. I’ve coached over 60 seasons of youth sports. I have never, ever hurt a child in any way – not as alleged and not ever.
I’m trusting in justice, trusting in our God and continuing to love everyone as God has instructed us. I have faith that despite this difficult time, there are brighter days ahead.
"Whatsoever you do, to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."
Skupin, who is the father of seven children, appeared on Survivor: The Australian Outback, where he became the first person to be medically evacuated from the reality show after he fell into a fire and severely burned his hands. He competed in Survivor: Philippines, tying for second place.
His next court appearance is later this month.