The TV competitor allegedly had a sexual relationship with a teenager beginning when she was 15

By Ashley Boucher
August 04, 2020 08:07 PM
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Last year's American Ninja Warrior champion has been accused of attempting to have sex with an underage girl and manufacturing child pornography.

Drew Drechsel, 31, was arrested at his home in Florida on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of New Jersey announced in a press release Tuesday.

The charges against him include manufacture of child pornography, enticement of a minor to travel for illicit sexual conduct, travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and use of interstate commerce to entice a minor, according to the press release.

Drechsel began a sexual relationship with a teenage girl in 2014 after they met at an event with several American Ninja Warrior contestants, according to the criminal complaint.

The two exchanged phone numbers at that event and began texting. Drechsel, then 26, arranged for the girl — who lived in New Jersey at the time — to visit his gym in Hamden, Connecticut, in July 2015 as a present for her 15th birthday. The two exchanged text messages about "plans for sexual activity" leading up to her visit, according to the complaint.

Drew Drechsel
David Becker/NBC

During the visit to the gym, Drechsel and the girl allegedly had sex after his girlfriend left and they were alone. The girl told her mother about it the following day, according to the complaint.

When the girl's mother confronted Drechsel, he allegedly "did not deny the sexual activity, but rather stated he did not know her age at the time."

The following January, Drechsel texted the girl that he was traveling to New Jersey and set up another meeting to have sex. The girl claimed that they had sex several more times between the time she was 15 and 17 years old, according to the complaint, in addition to Skype sessions.

Photos and video footage of the girl was found by investigators on Drechsel's old cell phone, according to the complaint.

Drechsel's lawyer, Frank Riccio, said in a statement Tuesday that the TV competitor plans on pleading not guilty.

"Mr. Drechsel is presumed innocent of the charges and that presumption will remain throughout the pendency of his case," Riccio said. "He intends on entering a 'not guilty' plea. It is respectfully requested that you respect the privacy of Mr. Drechsel and his family."

Drechsel and Riccio did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Drechsel and his girlfriend April Beckner welcomed a son in December of last year.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.