Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives said a Palm Beach County gymnastics coach for children was arrested on Friday for possessing child pornography.
Detectives with the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children/Human Trafficking Task Force served a search warrant at the Lauderdale Lakes home of 66-year-old Carl Lechner.
According to the probable cause affidavit, “The defendant (Lechner) admitted that he was curious about child pornography and when that curiosity overwhelmed him, he would search for it and view it. He said he would often feel bad for having viewed the files and would move it to the trash on his computer and then uninstall the (software) program.”
The affidavit also said, “He stated that his interest in child pornography started when he used those programs to search for child pornography that depicted a child he was familiar with.”
Investigators said they “recovered seven videos depicting the sexual exploitation of children. Those videos depict children under the age of twelve engaging in various sex acts.”
Lechner owned and operated TAG Gymnastic gyms in Davie from 1989 to 2000 and in Weston from 1998 to 2010, BSO detectives said. However, the current owner of TAG USA Gymnastics in Weston said Lechner never had any connection to the Weston facility.
BSO said Lechner was currently working as a coach at Cats Gymnastics, a children’s gymnastics and fitness center in Jupiter.
Terry Howison owns Cats Gymnastics in Jupiter where Lechner works as a coach.
“We’re totally shocked,” Howison told Miami Herald news partner CBS4’s Carey Codd. “It’s totally out of character of what we’ve ever seen from him.”
Parents at the gym had little to say about Lechner’s arrest.
“It’s been fine,” said one woman. “There’s been nothing inside the gym.”
Howison reassured parents that he does not believe anything improper occurred between Lechner and the gymnastics students.
“Our whole gym is wide open,” Howison said. “It’s all windows. The parents can see every single thing that’s going on. He was never alone with anybody.”
Lechner was arrested on seven counts of possession of child pornography, one count of compiling computer pornography, three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
Anyone with any related information about Lechner should call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477) or online at Broward Crime Stoppers.