Authorities arrested Kenneth A. Arnold, 28, 410 S. Fourth St., Zionsville, early Thursday morning on two counts of child molesting and one count of battery.
The charges stem from alleged incidents with three separate children between the ages of 10 and 12 while Arnold, known as Andy, was a gymnastics coach at Interactive Academy, 3795 S. U.S. 421, Zionsville. Interactive Academy is a recreational complex specializing in gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, swimming and more.
Court documents said Boone County Division of Child Services contacted the Zionsville Police Department on Jan. 5, 2016, after a young girl reported being touched under her leotard “skin-to-skin” by Arnold while training in late December 2015.
“It’s been a very in-depth and sensitive investigation given the age of the girls and their ongoing participation with the gymnastics program,” said Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer. “Things like that just slowed (the investigation) down. We didn’t want to rush it, and he’d (Arnold) been suspended.”
Meyer said another contributing factor to the November charging were all three juveniles and their families live outside Boone County.
Interactive Academy released a statement Thursday that read: “In January 2016, Interactive was contacted by law enforcement regarding a parent’s allegations that one of our coaches, Andy Arnold, had improper contact with a student during practice. Since that time Mr. Arnold has not been at our facility, and he is no longer employed by Interactive Academy. We promptly informed parents about the situation, as our first priority is to ensure the health and well-being of the children and families we serve.
“Interactive cooperated fully with law enforcement during the investigation of these allegations. We have confidence in the criminal justice system and will continue our full cooperation with the involved authorities. We do not have any additional information to add at this time.”
Court documents said during the course of the investigation, Interactive Academy sent a message to parents “indicating a parent had made a report about Arnold to law enforcement.” Tumbling Program Director Brian Kidder said the email went out to parents on Feb. 4.
Following that correspondence, two other female juveniles came forward. One said Arnold also touched her under her leotard “skin-to-skin,” and the other said Arnold made “skin-to-skin” contact with her “bottom.”
“Interactive Academy has been very cooperative, and their communications with the parents has been helpful,” Meyer said. “In all cases like this it’s absolutely imperative the parents are aware of what’s happening, that they’re aware of it quickly. That way they can engage with their children and have the discussions they need to have as to their safety.”
In the probable cause affidavit it said “during spotting students it is possible for them to fall or rotate in a way that may cause him to touch someone.” Arnold added it was “common” and “I just apologize and move on.”
Zionsville Police Officer Tessa Potts said she learned during the investigation that Arnold “had previously been counseled regarding concerns over his touching students.”
Questions about Arnold’s contact with children started in 2015. Court documents said a witness felt Arnold was touching students more than necessary, helping them up off the mat and tickling them. The witness said most girls did not seem bothered by it, but “she noticed one girl in particular would rush to get off the mat before Arnold could touch her.” The witness notified the Interactive Academy staff.
Interactive Academy Gym Director Kendra Brens “placed documentation” into Arnold’s file on May 27, 2015, after a meeting about “interactions/setting personal boundaries with athletes” according to the probable cause affidavit. Brens sent an email to Arnold confirming his understanding that it was “necessary to watch every movement when it comes to touching kids. Spotting skills only when necessary. No holding, hugging, touching athletes telling them to tighten up. No tickling or carrying kids on back.”
Arnold’s LinkedIn profile said the 6-foot-5, 265-pound former collegiate football player, graduated from Anderson University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in kinesiology and exercise science.
If convicted, Arnold faces a maximum of just more than 20 years in prison. He is being held in the Boone County Jail without bond. Based on the timing of one of the alleged acts, one of the molestation charges Arnold is facing is a Class C felony. The other molestation charge is a Level 4 felony, and the battery charge is a Class B misdemeanor.
As of this time, a court date has not been set.
In August 2015, Marvin Sharp, owner of Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy, 8070 Georgetown Road, Indianapolis, was charged with four felony counts of child molesting and three felony counts sexual misconduct with a minor. Deputies discovered Sharp in his cell on Sept. 19, 2015, dead of an apparent suicide.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.