Several people who know former Olympic gold medallist and youth boxing coach Paul Gonzales have revealed their shock and surprise at his recent arrest.
Gonzales, who won the top prize at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles at 106 pounds, faces eight charges of child molestation and pornography in relation to a girl, 13, who trained at an East LA gym where the 53 year-old was employed.
If found guilty, Gonzales could be jailed for up to 18 years as his reputation of being an upstanding member of the community takes a hammering.
Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a friend of Gonzales told the LA Times he found the police reports “shocking and disappointing.”
“My first thought was for the kids that are inspired by role models and whose trust was betrayed,” he added.
World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman, whose late father Jose knew Gonzales and awarded him for his community work, said, “He was always kind, always smiling, always working for boxing and for kids.
“I definitely hope there’s a misconception or misunderstanding,” said Sulaiman.
A fellow member of the Olympic team, who also won gold at the heavyweight limit, Henry Tillman said the allegations against Gonzales made him ‘sick’ before also saying: “It’s a sad situation. Paul’s like a little brother to me.”
Accused of grooming the teenage girl and taking advantage of her sexually, Gonzales was arrested between Christmas and New Year with a massive bail of $545,000 in order to keep him behind bars.
As Gonzales had unlimited access to children as young as nine over a period of a decade or more, further investigations are underway to find out the extent of any other crimes the former fighter may have committed.