Public In ‘Disbelief’ Following Olympic Boxing Champ’s Arrest For Lewd Acts on Young Girl

January 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Word that a local sports hero had been arrested on suspicion of performing lewd acts on a girl younger than 14 spread quickly through the Eastside, with hundreds of people taking to social media sites to say they didn’t believe 1984 Olympic Boxing Gold Medal Champion Paul Gonzales is guilty of the 8 felony counts he is charged with, including possession of child pornography.

1984 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal boxing champion, Paul Gonzalez. (EGP archive photo)

“Nobody believe that S### about Olympic Gold Medalist Paul Gonzalez Molesting kids at the gym, I think someone just starting S### to remove him from the Boxing Gym,” wrote Arian Arreola on his Facebook page, drawing agreement from others posting to the social media site.

“Paul Gonzalez has always been a Role model,” writes Arreola.

Others said he is being “railroaded,” and called him a “true role model.”

“He was always there to help the kids, for the community,” writes BobbyM, who said he’s known Gonzales since he was 11-years-old. “Someone is trying to get some money here. All these years working with kids and there’s just one complaint! Something’s not right!

Still, others were more cautious, saying, “if true, the news is disappointing,” or “I’m shocked.”

Los Angeles Country Sheriff officials, however, don’t see Gonzales as a good guy. They believe there is enough evidence to warrant his arrest, and on Jan. 4 asked for the public’s help to find other potential victims of the 1984 Olympic boxing champion and county-employed boxing coach.

Paul Gonzales, 53, worked for the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department as the head coach at the Eddie Heredia Boxing Club on East Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles for the past 10 years, according to sheriff’s Lt. Todd Deeds.

“He’s probably better known for being a gold-medal winner for the United States in the 1984 Olympics in the sport of boxing,” the lieutenant said, referring to Gonzales’ Olympic victory as a light flyweight. The girl – described only as “under 14” – met Gonzales at the boxing club last year, where she was a student, the lieutenant said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

“We believe that he befriended her and that he groomed her and we believe that lewd conduct was committed against her over a period of time, Deeds told reporters, declining to specify where the alleged crimes occurred.

“Based on the facts we’ve gained from the investigation and the fact that Mr. Gonzales has worked at the gym for a long period of time and had access to lots of children, specifically females during that time, we’re very concerned we have more victims out there that have never disclosed to law enforcement, so that’s why we’re putting this out to the public and trying to reach potential victims,” the sheriff’s lieutenant said.

Gonzales was the first of nine boxers in 1984 who would take home the Gold. He was the first Mexican-American to win a gold medal in boxing, and carried both the Mexican and American flags in homage to his Mexican and American descent. It was a feat he accomplished less than five miles from the housing project in East Los Angeles where he’d grown up and the neighborhood gym where he trained to become a boxer under the watchful eye and guidance of ex-boxer and Los Angeles police officer Al Stankie.

An attempt at a professional boxing career was short-lived.

Gonzalez would go on to work as a car salesman and twice make unsuccessful runs for the Los Angeles City Council. He is featured in a pictorial history of “Mexican Americans in Los Angeles” by Alex Moreno Areyan. In 2016, Metro and the LA2024 Olympic committee celebrated Los Angeles’ Olympic history and past Olympic gold medalists with a series of events at local transit stations that they billed as a chance for the public to meet an Olympic Gold Medalist.

“Medalists will meet and greet, display their gold medals, pose for photographs and give autographs,” Metro announced. One of those gold medalists was Gonzales.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Gonzales was arrested near his home Dec. 29 following an investigation that ensued after the department was contacted by one of the girl’s family members.

He remains behind bars at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles in lieu of $545,000 bail.

Paul Gonzales. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Gonzales is set to be arraigned Jan. 18 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on four counts of lewd act upon a child and one count each of attempted lewd act upon a child, possession of child or youth pornography, distributing or showing pornography to a minor and contact with a minor for a sexual offense.

County parks and recreation officials issued a statement saying Gonzales is on unpaid-leave while he’s in jail, and said the department would cooperate fully with the investigation.

On Facebook and Twitter, some comments expressed anger that Gonzales’ supporters seemed unwilling to acknowledge  Sheriff’s detectives saing the former boxer was in possession of child pornography.

“So sad that nobody believes the 13yr old child. There’s [evidence] people,” writes Marie Darla on Gonzales’ Facebook page.

The criminal complaint, filed Jan. 3, alleges that the lewd acts occurred on or between May 1 and Aug. 9 last year, and that the other crimes occurred on or between Aug. 1 and Dec. 29.

Anyone with relevant information about the case was urged to contact the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-5273.

Information from City News Service was used in this report.

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