Jefferson Parish DA’s Office Charges Gymnastics Coach With Sexual Abuse
On Wednesday, September 12, the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office filed a bill of information formally charging 26-year-old gymnastics coach Jonathan West with sexually abusing 12 boys, many of whom were his students.
West faces a long list of charges, including two counts of oral sexual battery, eight counts of sexual battery, three counts of sexual battery with a juvenile under the age of 13, 10 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and computer-aided solicitation of a minor.
He pleaded not guilty to all 24 of these counts on Wednesday morning in an appearance before Magistrate Commissioner Patricia Joyce.
According to court records, victims ranged from 9 to 15 and some abuse was reported as early as September 2015.
West allegedly targeted male students of his at Flipnastics in Luling, as well as a cheerleading and gymnastics training academy called The New Orleans Outlaws in Kenner. He also allegedly met victims at an Elmwood trampoline park called Sector 6 Extreme Air Sports.
A History of Sex Crime Allegations Against West
This case is not the first time Jonathan West has been accused of sex crimes.
In March 2011, he was arrested for aggravated rape involving two or more offenders. That charge was eventually refused by the district attorney’s office five months later, but it is an extremely serious charge with a mandatory life sentence. Even though West had the option to have this charge expunged, he never did – meaning the charge would still show up in criminal background checks.
In 2012, West was accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old in Kenner. However, police conducted an investigation and decided that there was not enough evidence to arrest West.
Legal Recourse for Parents of Child Sex Abuse Victims
Brian Kent is a sexual abuse victims lawyer who helps families in this difficult situation seek justice. We’ve asked him to share some thoughts on how the legal system can help victims and their families:
Child sexual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes known to humankind. The victims of this type of abuse often suffer from psychological and emotional difficulties for extended periods, and sometimes the damages can be permanent. However, with the right support system, it is possible to move on and live a happy life.
When a child is sexually abused by a professional entrusted with their care, holding the perpetrator criminally responsible is the top priority. Additionally, it’s important to determine if the perpetrator’s employer was negligent in a way that failed to prevent the abuse. For example, an employer could be held liable for failing to run a background check that would have revealed a history of sexual assault allegations against a job candidate.
If you’re looking for answers and support after your child was sexually abused, you can learn more by discussing your family’s situation with an experienced sexual abuse victims lawyer.