Gymnastics #coach confessed to #child porn #downloads, says #Judd

LAKELAND — A 21-year-old gymnastics coach has admitted to and was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced.

Alexander Katchalov is being charged with 22 counts of possessing child pornography. The son of the owners, Mikhail and Irina Katchalov, and an employee of Elite World Gymnastics, Katchalov has been coaching children ranging in age from 3 to 15.

“He confessed,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Tuesday night. “He said he’s been downloading child pornography since 2011.”

Video clips downloaded by Katchalov show children as young as 3 or 4, Judd said. The sheriff added that child pornographers have a tendency to engage in inappropriate behavior with children, but there is no evidence that he ever touched a child inappropriately.

“There is absolutely no evidence that Alexander has ever done that at this time,” Judd said. “Our initial investigation tells us he has gone online and pretended to be a 13, 14, 15-year-old child — boy and girl — in an effort to acquire child pornography.”

Judd added that there was no indication that Katchalov’s parents were aware of the issue. Judd said the gym is equipped with bedrooms and that Katchalov has lived there for some period of time.

“He was downloading and viewing it here,” Judd said. “If your child has ever been taught by him — individually or in a team setting — and says he or she was touched by him inappropriately, let us know.”

Of the 22 images, 21 of them were videos, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Another was an image of children — all no older than 12 — being “sexually battered or displayed in a lewd manner.”

Judd said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible.
“There’s a lot of families who do business here,” Judd said. “They’ve sent groups to compete all across the country and perhaps overseas.”