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Disturbing story from CBS in Denver regarding extensive allegations of physical and sexual abuse of high-level gymnasts at Flames Gymnastics in California by former coach, Doug Boger, in the 1970s. Boger was placed on USA Gymnastics' banned list after the allegations surfaced, but nonetheless was able to get a coaching job at a non-USA Gymnastics member club in Colorado. As an update to this story, Boger reportedly was released from the club in Colorado and is no longer coaching.
The CBS article is below. Additionally, click here for a comprehensive CNN piece on this story, which interviews with a number of gymnasts who have accused Boger of abuse, including 1980s star, Sabrina Mar.
Gymnasts Accuse Colorado Coach Of Sex Abuse, Torture
February 9, 2012 10:08 PM
DENVER (CBS4) – A group of former gymnasts are accusing a nationally recognized, Colorado-based gymnastics coach, of years of physical abuse, torture and sexual molestation.
“I’ve been waiting years for this day to come and speak up,” said Anne Malver, a 51- year-old wife and mother of two, who says her former coach, Doug Boger, had sex with her for years when she was one of his students.
“I will admit it. I was a very tough coach,” said Boger, who is now based in Colorado Springs, but he flatly denied all of the abuse claims. “I definitely think I am the victim of a mob mentality.”
“He molested me sexually multiple times,” said Malver.
She said the sexual relations occurred in the 1970s when she was between the ages of 11 and 14 and Boger was in his 20s. Malver has never publicly disclosed the relationship until the interview with CBS4. Malver said Boger — who was coaching a group of girls in Pasadena, Calif., called “The Flairs” — groomed her.
“The groundwork was tickling and rolling until the tongue was in the ear. He said ‘I just can’t wait till you’re 18, I can’t , I can’t. I want those legs to wrap around me,’” Malver says Boger told her. “And in the apartment being taken to the bedroom and being disrobed. And in the bedroom forcing himself inside me even though I was crying out for him to stop. And in that moment of pain he would say, ‘This is what all you girls want; this is what you all want.’”
Malver says over the course of three years, Boger had sex with her at least a dozen times.
Malver was one of four women who told stories of being sexually abused by Boger as part of a CBS4 Investigation, claiming Boger, who was once a national gymnastics champion himself, had sex with them during their pre-teen years. Boger is now trying to get back into the coaching realm in Colorado.
Boger say the claims of Malver, the three others who say he sexually abused them, and numerous other women who claim physical abuse are, “Fabricated. I did not do anything wrong, the sexual thing is absolutely fabricated. These kids all got together and fabricated this.”
Boger’s comments came during his first media interview about the accusations.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Boger. He called the accusations “fiction.”
Denise Gallion, another former Flairs gymnast, is now a 50-year-old mother of four. But she says when she was a 13-year-old gymnast under the tutelage of Boger in Pasadena; he began having sex with her.
“You just kind of go with it. He was like a boyfriend — that’s what was in my head,” said Gallion.
She says Boger was in his mid-to-late 20s when he began having sex with her. She said he had sex with her multiple times in California, on Catalina Island and on a trip to Hawaii.
“It was like a relationship. I thought I was the only one,” said Gallion.
Gallion says the underage sex has dramatically affected her life.
“I’m still trying to find myself at 50. I feel like I don’t know who I am and have always tried to be what everyone thinks is good,” said Gallion.
Charmaine Carnes began training with Boger in Pasadena when she was 8 or 9. She said Boger groomed her for sex.
“He would start tickling up high then work his way down low,” said Carnes.
She said the playfulness eventually turned into unwanted sex.
“And he used his fingers to manipulate my private areas. He would kiss me and fondle me and fondle my breasts,” said Carnes.
Carnes said Boger eventually engaged in a full blown sexual relationship with her, having sex with her in his home. Carnes said her parents implicitly trusted the gym coach, but were fooled.
“There was a mattress there and he would lay me down and we would have intercourse,” said Carnes.
Asked how her parents could not have known what was happening, Carnes said, “There’s a great ability for parents to have denial.”
Like the other women, Carnes said her parents were dazzled by the charismatic Boger, their judgment possibly clouded by Boger’s ability to turn young girls into champion gymnasts.
A fourth former Flairs gymnast, who asked she not be identified, said Boger began having sex with her when she was 13.
“He didn’t care about our emotions, or our minds. We were just bodies, there to worship him and to be used by him,” said the now 51-year-old woman. “I was completely caught up in his world and didn’t realize the amount of damage he was doing. I trusted him.”
The woman said she has never shared stories of her sexual contact with Boger until now.
“A lot of the sex was humiliating. Enough so that I will never tell another soul some of what he did to me,” said the woman.
She said she is now sharing her story not for revenge, but to support the other women.
“I’m here to say everything they say is true. I know, because it happened to me too. We kids didn’t stand a chance,” said the woman.
She said at age 15, Boger got her pregnant, leading to an abortion.
“These are the things I can talk about,” said the woman, “other things are better left buried deep.”
The whispers about Boger and his pre-teen gymnasts eventually reached Richard Riordan whose daughter, Kathy, was one of the Flairs.
Riordan, who would go on to be elected Mayor of Los Angeles, told CBS4 he confronted Boger, who denied having sex with his young students.
“I kept telling him I don’t believe you one inch,” recounted Riordan, “Don’t care what you say you get the hell out of here.”
Riordan said he then warned other parents but was stunned at their reactions.
“I called a couple of other parents and they said, ‘Thanks for the warning but we’ll make sure our child doesn’t get involved,’ and they still let their children go to his classes.”
Finally said Riordan, he notified prosecutors in Southern California about what he had heard.
“But prosecutors weren’t interested because they didn’t know how to make good witnesses out of the children,” said Riordan.
Beyond the four women who say Boger sexually molested them, others say Boger physically abused them, causing serious injuries and even burned them with cigarettes to make a point.
“He kicked me, threw me against equipment, threw me against a wall and burned me with a cigarette,” said Amy Moran, now 38-years-old. “He’s a monster and also a con man. He had our parents tricked.”
Former gymnast Monica Lenches said she witnessed the cigarette incidents.
“I remember him burning a girl with a cigarette. I remember him taking a cigarette to her body,” said Lenches.
Kathy Riordan, whose father said he tried to warn other parents and prosecutors, said that on a road trip to Arizona, when the team was staying at a motel, she caught Boger with a teammate.
“She was underage, they were in bed naked,” said Riordan. “Through the crack in the curtain I saw him in bed with my teammate and they both jumped out of bed naked. I have no doubt they were having sex.”
Boger was put on trial in Pasadena in 1982 on charges he physically abused young gymnasts. He was acquitted on those charges, and none of the women in this CBS4 Investigation were called to testify in that case. Charges were never brought against Boger on the sexual abuse allegations as most of the young girls say they never discussed what happened. Most said they never told their stories due to shame, fear, guilt or feelings that they would not be believed. And they say they were infatuated with their handsome coach, and did not want to cause him problems.
“I wanted his approval constantly,” said Mona Holmes, who trained with Boger for about a year and a half.
Boger, who now lives in Colorado Springs, is planning to again coach young gymnasts.
“That’s all I’ve done. That’s what I am. I am a gymnastics coach. That is still my passion, that’s what I do,” said Boger.
In 2009, many of the women filed complaints with USA Gymnastics telling the organization their stories about Boger. In 2010, the governing body permanently banned Boger from working in USAG sanctioned gyms citing the accusations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
But Boger is still free to coach and work in gyms not sanctioned by USA Gymnastics. The women say that’s a loophole that needs to be closed.
John Billera, a Florida- based attorney representing Boger, told CBS4 he is actively attempting to get Boger’s USA Gymnastics ban overturned.
“I confirm I have written a letter to .. USA Gymnastics requesting that Coach Doug Boger’s name be removed from the “do not hire” list. I have heard back from the organization denying the request,” said Billera.
“At this point we intend to hire Colorado counsel to assist with the filing of a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief and damages as the USAG is unlawfully blocking Mr. Boger’s right to work in his chosen field.”
As he categorically denies the women’s accusations, Boger is receiving support from other gymnasts and their parents. On one internet message board, a person who identified themselves as former students of Boger’s wrote, “I am stunned at the allegations against him. He was by far the best gymnastics coach I’ve ever had in my entire life and I would not trade the 7 years I worked with him for anything. I never in my life experienced anything that Doug is being accused of and I will stand by him through this. He has had such a positive impact on my life and I will always support him.”
Another writer, identified as a parent of a gymnast wrote, “Doug has never been anything other than professional, supportive, and encouraging to my children. In fact, my children LOVE Coach Doug.”
The women tracked down in the CBS4 Investigation say Boger should never again be allowed in a gym.
“Doug Boger should never be in the presence of a child — ever,” said Kathy Riordan.
Mona Holmes said she was speaking out about her former coach to protect others.
“My priority is that man does not need to set foot in a gym again. He just needs to not be around young children, period,” said Holmes.
Speaking out about Boger may be about all they can do. Since the alleged sexual acts took place more than 30 years ago, it appears the statute of limitations has run out, and Boger couldn’t be criminally charged, even if prosecutors wanted to pursue the cases. The women hope their stories prompt changes in California’s laws.
“I believe the statute should be lifted,” said Kathy Riordan. “Victims don’t come forward until later. It’s appalling that when they have the courage to speak out the law can’t help them.”
Some criminal charges, like murder, have no statute of limitations and can be prosecuted at any time. But that’s not the case in California when it comes to sexual assault of a minor.
“That we have it on murder but not child abuse and molestation says as a society how we view children, because when you abuse and molest a child you are murdering an aspect of that child,” said Monica Lenches.
“He was a fantastic coach, but that does not make him a good person,” said former Flairs gymnast Julie Whitman. “I came out to protect the little girls we don’t know that we want to protect, that’s why we’re doing this. If I can protect one girl, I’ve done a good thing.”
“It’s time that he knows he can’t walk around and pretend he didn’t do anything,” said Denise Gallion.
Doug Boger says the women are lying, “about everything. This came out of the blue and I don’t know why.”
Through tears, Charmaine Carnes said, “He stole our dreams.”