EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A local boxing legend and community leader is behind bars for alleged sexual assault of a minor, and his fellow boxing instructors are in disbelief.
Olympic gold medalist Paul Gonzales was arrested Dec. 29 on eight felony charges, four of which include committing lewd acts on a child under age 14, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed. It was unclear if the charges involve one or more children.
Investigators think there might be more victims who have yet to come forward. A news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Hall of Justice in downtown L.A.
"Based on the allegations in this case, and the fact suspect Gonzales has trained and mentored kids at the boxing gym for the past ten years, detectives believe there may have been other children in the past that were sexually assaulted by suspect Gonzales," according to a sheriff's department statement.
In 1984, Gonzales became the first American Latino man to win Olympic gold, earning the medal in the light flyweight category for boxing.
For the past 10 years, the 53-year-old Gonzales, a father, has worked as the head boxing coach for the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department's Eddie Heredia Boxing Club on East Olympic Boulevard in East L.A. He also moonlights as a motivational speaker.
"This is shocking. It's surprising," instructor Adrian Villanueva said of his boxing gym colleague.
It is not yet known whether the victim attended the boxing club, which is run by the county's Parks and Recreation Department.
"He's a good coach. He's always here for the kids and, you know, anyone who needs advice," said Villanueva, who added he never noticed anything suspicious with Gonzales and the students.
Gonzales is being held at the Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $545,000 bail. He is expected to appear in court on Jan. 18.
Anyone with information regarding the case is urged to call the Los Angeles Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.
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