American Ninja Warrior champion Drew Drechsel was arrested on Tuesday, August 4 for child sex crimes. Drechsel, who won American Ninja Warrior in 2019 and served as a mentor for young competitors on American Ninja Warrior Junior, faces four charges from the Department of Justice in the District of New Jersey.
Drew Drechsel is charged with 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.
If found guilty, Drew Drechsel faces a minimum of 15 and maximum of 30 years for child pornography, a maximum of 20 years for enticement of a minor to travel, a maximum of 30 years for travel with the intent to engage, and maximum sentence of life in prison of use of interstate commerce to entice.
According to the criminal complaint listing the charges, Drew Drechsel stands accused of a sexual relationship with a minor from around July 2015 - April 2016 with a minor who was between 15- and 16-years-old at the time.
The case began in 2019 when a then 19-year-old woman told the Cherry Hill Police Department in New Jersey that she'd had a sexual relationship with Drew Drechsel, beginning in 2015 when she was 15-years-old and Drechsel was 26.
She reportedly met Drew Drechshel at an event in 2014 and they engaged in sexual activity the next year, with the victim traveling from New Jersey to Drechsel's "Ninja Gym" in Hamden, Connecticut. The victim's mother stated that she confronted Drechsel in 2015, at which point he said that he did not know her daughter's age at the time. According to the complaint, Drechsel continued to push for sexual encounters, in person and via Skype.
According to a statement from Drew Drechsel's lawyer, Frank J. Riccio II via Twitter, Drechsel is "presumed innocent of the charges," plans to plead "not guilty," and requests privacy for him and his family. As for NBC, which airs American Ninja Warrior, the network released a statement as well on Wednesday, August 5 (via THR):
We are shocked and disturbed to learn about the charges alleged against Drew Drechsel. American Ninja Warrior is a family show that has inspired countless people, and we will not let the actions of one contestant tarnish the hard work and amazing stories of so many. Moving forward, the American Ninja Warrior brand will sever all ties with Mr. Drechsel, including his appearance on future seasons of the show.
American Ninja Warrior will continue on NBC, but any ties with Drew Drechsel have been cut due to the criminal charges filed against him. NBC cites American Ninja Warrior's status as a "family show," and the series has already been renewed for Season 12. USA Today reports that ANW filmed a shorter-than-usual Season 12 back in July; NBC's statement regarding Drechsel's appearance "on future seasons" may mean edits to footage to remove him from Season 12.
For now, stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more in TV news heading toward the fall 2020 premiere season.