American Ninja Warrior champion Drew Drechsel is facing federal charges for allegedly luring an underage girl for sexual relations. He was arrested Tuesday at his home in St. Cloud, Florida and remains in custody. U.S. Marshals are transporting him from Florida to New Jersey, where he will stand trial.
According to TMZ, the legal documents say that the alleged victim contacted the police in June 2019. She said that she and the recent winner allegedly started having sex when she was 15 and he was 26. Additionally, she claims they met in 2014 after an American Ninja Warrior event. They allegedly exchanged numbers and began texting each other.
The documents claim that Drechsel invited the alleged victim to his gym in Hamden, Connecticut as a 15th birthday present. They allegedly had sex after Drechsel's girlfriend left the gym. The alleged victim told the police that she informed her mother about the encounter the next day.
According to the documents, the mother claims that Drechsel didn't deny the sexual relations when confronted. However, he allegedly claimed that he didn't know her age. The documents also allege that Drechsel frequently asked the victim to Skype with him while she was naked, as well as delete the text messages between them. The federal agents also allegedly found child pornography on Drechsel's phone.
According to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office, Drechsel "is charged by complaint with the 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." He made an initial appearance in court on Tuesday prior to traveling to New Jersey.
The count of use of interstate commerce to entice carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; the count of enticement to travel for illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; the count of travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and the count of manufacture of child pornography carries a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison. All of the counts also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 per count.
Drechsel took the victory in the season 11 finals in Las Vegas in September 2019. He secured the title of American Ninja Warrior and the $1 million cash prize. He is technically only the second champion in the show's history — although each season has a "Last Ninja Standing."
Prior to the announcement of the federal charges, Drechsel appeared on TV screens on Monday night. NBC aired the USA vs. The World specials from seasons 10 and 11. In these episodes, teams of USA-based competitors partnered together. Drechsel was on both seasons as part of Team USA.