Tulsa Gymnasts Accuse Former Coach Of Sexual Abuse
TULSA, Oklahoma - Editor’s note: A previous version of this story mistakenly included video from Aim High Academy. The suspect was never involved with Aim High Academy. News On 6 regrets the error.
Tulsa County prosecutors charged a former OU gymnast and coach with 10 counts of lewd molestation.
They said Skip Crawley abused little girls in the early ‘90s.
The victims are now women in their 30s and said when they saw Crawley was recently charged in Texas for the same thing, they couldn't stay quiet any longer.
Crawley is known as an elite gymnastics coach. Police said athletes and parents were thrilled when Tulsa World of Gymnastics announced he'd start coaching there in 1993.
"People started noticing that he would single out some girls, spend a little extra time with some young girls," Sergeant Jillian Phippen said.
Some of the athletes have come forward, years later, after hearing Crawley was charged in Fort Worth in August with molesting young gymnasts there.
"That's ultimately what led to these very brave, courageous women now to come forward here in Tulsa and say, ‘We're done. No more. We're going to tell our story and we want him held accountable,’" Phippen said.
The sergeant said one of the girls told her parents in 1997 Crawley touched her in places he shouldn't.
"That snowballed into multiple other young girls coming forward," Phippen said.
In the affidavit, the women's stories are eerily similar, talking about how Crawley picked his victims from a "special stretching group."
"He would pull these young girls aside to the back of the gym. He would face them all away," Phippen said. “Every day he stretched them he molested them.”
It says Crawley would slip his hands inside their leotards, touching their breasts and privates. Phippen said it went on every day for the entire four years he coached there.
"To think, they were told Skip was going to take them to the Olympics. And instead, he was taking advantage of them," she said.
The affidavit says the parents told gym owners, Wayne and Linda Bradshaw, and they immediately fired Crawley. The Bradshaws told police everyone agreed not to report it, to spare the girls a trial.
"Skip was fired, and nobody talked about it again. Nothing. Not a word, not a peep. Nobody talked about it," Phippen said. "They never got justice. They feel like kind of what happened to them was swept under the rug."
Linda Bradshaw sent a statement, saying:
“First, our hearts go out to the girls and the families involved in this tragic situation, which is just now coming to light.
“My husband, Wayne, and I opened Tulsa World of Gymnastics in 1976 and successfully operated it until we retired and sold the business in 2016. During those 40 years, we worked extremely hard and were dedicated to providing a safe and positive learning environment for thousands of young boys and girls who participated in recreational and competitive gymnastics in our gym.
“In the summer of 1993, we hired a full-time gymnastics coach, Skipper “Skip” Crawley, who was a highly reputable 25-or 26-year old gymnastics coach from OU.
“In April 1997, we met with a few of the girls’ parents, and they said they did not want Skip to coach their daughters any longer because – to use their words -- “he made them feel very uncomfortable” while helping them stretch or practice their routines in the gym. They never alleged any sexual abuse, but said they thought he “acted inappropriately” at times and made their daughters feel uncomfortable.
“We immediately met with Skip and terminated his employment. We have not had any communications with him for at least 20 years.
“Prior to the time of his firing, we never received any complaints about his behavior, nor did we ever observe any inappropriate behavior. My husband and I were on site most of the time, and there were always other coaches, parents and gymnasts present in the gym during practices. Our own granddaughter was a student there almost daily during this time frame as well. So, we suspected nothing.
“We received two calls 15 to 18 years ago from other potential gymnastics employers, but never gave him a positive reference.
“We eventually lost track of him until five or six years ago, when we were told Skip had been dismissed after working a short time at South Lake Gymnastics near Fort Worth, and that a couple of years ago, he applied for, but was rejected for a job with another gymnastics company in the DFW area.
“We were totally unaware that he had been hired in recent years by the Sokol Gymnastics in Fort Worth.”
Crawley's attorney says his client maintains he is 100-percent innocent.