The latest champion of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” Drew Drechsel, was arrested in Florida and charged with seeking sex with a New Jersey teen other sex crimes Tuesday, federal prosecutors said.
Drechsel, 31, was also charged with manufacturing child pornography, enticing a minor to travel for illicit sexual conduct, traveling with the intent to have sex with a minor, and using interstate commerce to entice a minor, according to a release from the New Jersey District Attorney.
NBC and studio A. Smith said in a joint statement: “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.”
Drechsel’s lawyer, Frank J. Riccio II, gave the following statement:
“Mr. Dreschel [sic] is presumed innocent of the charges and that presumption will remain throughout the pendency of his case. He intends on entering a “not guilty” plea,” he tweeted. “It is respectfully requested that you respect the privacy of Mr. Dreschel [sic] and his family.”
According to a criminal complaint, the minor came forward in June 2019 alleging that she had met and exchanged numbers with Drechsel at an “American Ninja Warrior” event in 2014. She said that she and Drechsel had sex multiple times starting 2015 when she was 15 and he was 26 years old.
The first tryst occurred when, for her 15th birthday, Drechsel invited her to his gym in Hamden, Connecticut, where they had sex after his girlfriend left the building, the complaint alleges. The minor told her mother about the incident the next day, but when confronted, Drechsel claimed to have not known her age.
The sexual contact continued for two more years up until the minor turned 17. The complaint continues that Drechsel had brought her to different parking lots around New Jersey for sex, and had often asked her for naked Skype calls and to send nude photos and videos, which he kept on an old phone.
Drechsel made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Florida on Tuesday before being transferred to the District of New Jersey.