• Local cheer coach arrested for child pornography in England

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    Prosecutors have charged Lenny Lewis, Jr. with possession of child pornography after Lewis was caught by Border Force officers in England in March.

    Lewis, 32, worked at Tech Gymnastics and All Star Cheer in Woodinville until February. The owner of the gym told KIRO-7 she asked Lewis to leave when she discovered he'd misrepresented himself on a background check. 

    According to charging documents, border investigators in England found images of child pornography on a cellphone belonging to Lewis on March 1 when he entered the country. They checked his phone because records showed he was a level 1 sex offender. 

    They also seized two laptop computers, a hard drive and a Sony PlayStation 4.

    Instead of filing charges, England deported him, back to Sea-Tac. The cellphone and computers were given to the pilot of the flight to turn over to federal authorities at Sea-Tac. Lewis was arrested by federal agents with Homeland Security at Sea-Tac on March 2.

    According to charging documents, this is the second time Lewis has faced child pornography charges. He was convicted of attempted possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct following an arrest in 2011. His roommate found pornographic images on his laptop after Lewis borrowed it; the roommate turned it over to Kent police.

    Lewis has been required to register as a Level 1 sex offender since January 2012.

    After his latest arrest, Lewis was booked into the King County Jail with bail set at $100,000. He's out on bond, though prosecutors fear he is a flight risk.

    The terms of his release prohibit him from having contact with minors or from using a computer without a computer monitoring system that tracks his access to illegal depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

    The owner of Tech Gymnastics and All Star Cheer, Colleen Long, told KIRO-7 she'd had problem with the background check system. Long says she let Lewis input his own personal information and he passed the background check. She says she found he had misrepresented himself and asked him to leave in January. 

    "This is always shocking when something like this happens," said Long, " You  always have to be vigilant and have policies in place that keep what's happening within your facility safe."

    Long says coaches are never alone with children and that all communication with children on digital media, includes their parents.

    Parents who had children at the gym told KIRO-7 they are frustrated and believe the owner found out about Lewis months before he was let go.   They say the gym was alerted by Mercer Island Police when they were checking on Lewis and his registered sex offender status and verifying his employment last fall. 

    "I feel lied to and betrayed," said Rhiann McDonald whose daughter cheered at the gym,"We weren't given the opportunity to protect our children, to make an informed choice of how to continue in the sport of cheerleading."

    McDonald says a few other coaches quit, frustrated Lewis was allowed to stay as long as he did.  

    Tech Gymnastics and All Star Cheer sent an email to all families about Lewis this afternoon, hours after KIRO-7 first contacted the owner for comment.

    KIRO-7 spoke to the suspect’s father, Leonard Lewis, Sr., on Wednesday, “Just at a loss for words for that, really disappointing,” said Leonard Lewis Sr, “Just heart broken. I just don’t know what to think. Just a huge disappointment for me.”

    Leonard Lewis Sr. is a very well-known cheer coach in the area.  

    When asked if he was surprised his son was hired as a coach with a previous conviction for child pornography, “Yes, I thought maybe because of everything he’s gone through, all of the things they did for him in court, and it was so long ago, everything was fine. That was wrong,” said Leonard Lewis, Sr.

    Lenny Lewis, Jr. is scheduled to be in court on June 26th. 

    On Friday, USA Gymnastics sent the following statement to KIRO 7 News:

    "USA Gymnastics cannot comment publicly on membership matters unless an action taken involves a public result, such as being placed on the list of individuals whose membership is suspended or who is permanently ineligible for membership.  

    Earlier today, USA Gymnastics suspended the membership of Colleen Long and revoked member club status for Tech Gymnastics and All Star Cheer in Woodinville, Wash.  USA Gymnastics membership requirements state that a member club cannot associate in any way with a person who is permanently ineligible for membership in the national organization or who is listed on a sex offender list.

    Lenny Lewis, Jr., who was arrested on possession of child pornography, is not a member of USA Gymnastics."


     

    Homeland Security Investigations is investigating and asks that anyone with relevant information, information on potential victims or concerns call HSI Seattle at (206) 442-1469 or email information to hsiseattletips@ice.dhs.gov.  

     


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