Broward County

Gymnastics coach accused of molestation gets some support

FORT LAUDERDALE - More than a dozen parents and children showed up at a bond hearing Friday morning in support of a South Florida gymnastics coach accused of molesting one of his students.

They wore purple shirts with the name of the Deerfield Beach gym where Ray Adams coached before he was arrested last week. Adams, 38, of Boca Raton, is accused of fondling a 10-year-old girl at that gym in September.

"We don't believe it," said Vonda Bray, of West Palm Beach, whose 13-year-old daughter was a student of his. "We want him back at our gym."

Adams sat quietly during the half-hour hearing with his feet shackled and wrists handcuffed. Broward Judge Michael Gates delayed a bond ruling.

Adams' attorney, Russell Williams, said the judge needed more time to decide whether Adams should have the option to post bail.

"I hope to hear from him today, but I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't." Williams said.

Investigators have said they have uncovered a pattern of troubling behavior involving Adams, who had been fired from some privately owned gyms after allegations of inappropriate behavior, said Broward Sheriff's Detective Julie Bower.

Adams, 38, has not been previously arrested in South Florida, records show, but had faced molestation charges in other states.

Police in Madison County, Ill., arrested Raymond Adams in 1998 on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse, a felony. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors reduced the charges to misdemeanor battery, to which Adams pleaded guilty in 2000, according to the Madison County State Attorney's Office.

He avoided jail time and probation, and paid $390 in court fines, said Stephanee Smith, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office.

The criminal charges stemmed from allegations that the abuse occurred in Alton, Ill., from December 1995 to May 1998, Smith said. She did not have additional information on the case.

Police in St. Louis County, Mo., said Adams was arrested there in the late 1990s on a sexual misconduct charge. Police and court officials in St. Louis County said Adams was found not guilty in the case. Additional details were not available.

Bieger hired a company to perform a background check on Adams that turned up clean, said Bieger's attorney, Howard Scheinberg. The gym's owners also thought Adams had no criminal history because he was certified to coach through USA Gymnastics, which performs extensive background checks on coaches, Scheinberg said last week.

Adams worked previously for at least two other South Florida gymnastics centers: American Twisters, in Coconut Creek, and Treasure Coast Gymnastics, in Martin County.