Crime

Texas gymnastics coach accused of sexual assaults, parents say they didn’t know

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Eugene ‘Gene’ Martinez, 40, turned himself in on a Tuesday in early May. For weeks, Travis County detectives investigated allegations the Texas-based coach, and USA Gymnastics member, sexually assaulted a woman the year before.

His attorney says he is innocent of the charges against him. Martinez bailed himself out of jail.

Parents at the Pflugerville gym where he coached, say they did not learn about his arrest until nearly six months later. During that time, more women were coming forward with allegations of sexual assault.

“Absolutely no one. Everyone that we talked to, no one was told,” said a parent whose child attended Platinum Gymnastics Academy and requested to remain anonymous. “He was still coaching them in the summer, even after he would have been released from jail. He was still coaching them.”

Martinez coached a select group of older gymnasts throughout the summer, she said. It wasn’t until October that parents learned about the charges.  

“I got this call from one of the other team moms and she was — sounded really upset,” the parent said. “She told me, ‘I just found out that Gene was charged with sexual assault,’ and I just kept saying ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. I can’t … what?’”

Detectives say it was a parent who reported Martinez to USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics Safe Sport said its confidentiality rules would not allow it to share when it first learned about the allegations of assault against Martinez or if it was the only report about Martinez it received. But on Oct. 1, 2021, the organization ordered the coach to have no unsupervised contact with participants.

A few days later, on Oct. 4, Martinez was arrested again on another sexual assault charge after two women accused him of sexually assaulting them in 2016, in separate incidents.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport, a separate agency from USA Gymnastics tasked with investigating and ruling on accusations of misconduct, suspended Martinez on Oct. 8. The agency moved to make Martinez permanently ineligible pending appeal on Nov. 2 because of his arrests.

Woman said Martinez was ‘forcing himself onto her’

The first reported assault happened on Oct. 25, 2020, according to an arrest affidavit. That day, the victim told detectives, Martinez’s wife invited her to their home for drinks. She stayed the night in the spare bedroom of their home, fearing she was too intoxicated to drive. Then, she said, Mr. Martinez came into her room, “forcefully” removed her clothes and sexually assaulted her.

The victim reported the assault to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office on April 19, 2021. Detectives said they interviewed several people who the victim confided in after the alleged assault, including her father.

“I couldn’t tell you how many times I told [Gene] no,” the victim told detectives.

Former employees said the gymnastics coach sexually assaulted them in 2016

Allegations from two of Martinez’s former employees came nearly five months after his first arrest.

In an arrest affidavit, one victim told detectives in 2016 she became ‘extremely intoxicated’ at Martinez’s home. That night she says Martinez carried her to a room and attempted to sexually assault her. The victim told detectives she was able to leave the home when Mr. Martinez stepped out of the room.

A third woman, who worked for Martinez, came forward in September 2021. The woman said she spent time at Mr. Martinez and his wifes’ home before the alleged sexual assault. In April 2016, the woman said, she felt “as drunk as she had ever been in the past” and stayed in one of the Martinez’ guest rooms. That night, she said, Mr. Martinez sexually assaulted her.

Police arrested Mr. Martinez for the second time on Oct. 4, 2021. According to some parents Martinez and his wife, who co-owned the gym, had still not told parents about the first allegation against the coach from earlier that year.

In a statement, Mr. Martinez’s attorney Brad Vinson said Martinez is innocent.

“We look forward to our day in court and defending him against these allegations,” he said.

Mr. Martinez is expected to go before a judge on Feb. 14, 2022.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who has information about the case or is a victim, to call its tip line at 512-854-1444.

Written by Kelly Wiley

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