An arrest in the alleged molestation of three juveniles may have been made sooner if a Washington gym owner had reported claims to authorities.
That’s according to Washington police in response to the charge against Piper J. Hoemann, 47, the owner of Kids in Motion where a former trainer is accused of touching three juveniles under their shorts while helping them with gymnastic techniques.
Hoemann, of Washington, was formally charged Tuesday, May 22, in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse or neglect as mandated by the state.
According to the probable cause statement filed by Washington police in the Franklin County Prosecutors Office, the parents of two juveniles reported inappropriate touching by volunteer trainer David F. Schneider, 41, to Hoemann.
In the summer of 2014, the mother of one child reported that Schneider inappropriately touched the child three different times while doing oversplits.
Then in December 2017, the father of a child attending Kids in Motion reported that Schneider touched his child once while doing oversplits at the gym.
Washington Police Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes said if Hoemann would have reported the parents’ complaints to the authorities more incidents might have been prevented and the investigation could have been more “timely.”
“We were behind the curveball by three, and in some cases, four years,” Sitzes said.
Schneider, Washington, was charged Feb. 6 in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with three felony counts of child molestation. The charges stem only from the incidents at Kids in Motion located at 2226 Highway A, Suite 200, Washington. The facility is no longer open.
“She (Hoemann) had been told numerous times by parents about the alleged molestation and basically did nothing about it,” Sitzes said.
According to the probable cause statement, the parents reported the alleged incidents believing that Hoemann would take appropriate action mandated by state statutes.
Schneider denied to police that he was ever told of any reports of inappropriate touching.
According to state statute, any person in charge of the care of children is mandated to report allegations of molestation or abuse to the Missouri Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services.
Hoemann told investigators that she did not speak with Schneider about the complaints, instead she only sent a memo to all staff members July 23, 2014, according to the probable cause statement.
The gym owner only addressed the reports of molestation through the internal memo, lying to a parent and “ignoring her obligation for mandatory reporting that any reasonable person in her position is aware of when the entire business operation is for children,” Washington police said.
A hearing is scheduled for Hoemann July 18 in front of Franklin County Associate Circuit Judge Stan Williams.
Washington police began an investigation into allegations of inappropriate touching after being contacted by a juvenile Jan. 9. The girl told police her gymnastics coach had touched her inappropriately five years ago.
According to the felony probable cause statement filed in the prosecutor’s office by Washington police, the first victim told police Schneider “used his hand to go under her shorts and grab the area of her vagina over her leotard” on multiple occasions while he was spotting her while doing the oversplits.
The victim told police she thought it was strange at the time the incidents occurred, but didn’t realize it was wrong until recently.
A second victim told police Schneider had placed his hands under her shorts and under her leotard, touching her genitals multiple times. The juvenile told police the touching occurred multiple times while doing the oversplits, according to the probable cause statement.
The second victim said the touching occurred four to six years ago while at Kids in Motion. She said she also witnessed Schneider touch the first victim under her shorts while doing the oversplits.
A third victim told police Schneider had touched her genitals with his fingers while she was doing the oversplits. The juvenile said the incidents occurred between spring 2014 and October 2014.
The third victim said the touching was awkward and she told her mother who reported the touching to Hoemann, according to police.
During an interview with Washington police, Schneider admitted to placing his hands on numerous girls in an inappropriate place during stretches, according to the probable cause statement.
Schneider told police the “inappropriate place” would be the area around the vagina and he never tried to “hide” that, authorities said.
He told police his hands slipped and he touched the girls inappropriately because it was a “wet environment” and the girls would be sweaty, according to the probable cause statement.
Schneider told police he did not change his stretching technique after slipping several times and touching girls, according to the probable cause statement.
In addition to working with gymnasts, Schneider has been a longtime coach in the area. He spent more than a decade as a volunteer swim coach at the Four Rivers Area Family YMCA in Washington until he was let go after the allegations were made public.
Schneider also coached volleyball and soccer at Crosspoint Christian School in the past.
In 2015, Schneider was recognized by the Washington Optimist Club with its annual Friend of the Youth Award. He was cited for his work with the swim team and as volunteer gymnastics coach with Kids in Motion during the award presentation.
Schneider was initially held on a $100,000 cash-only bond. The bond was reduced to $50,000 Feb. 7 and he was bonded out that evening.
Schneider is prohibited from contacting the three victims. He is being represented by Daniel Briegel, a Union-based attorney.
An arraignment is scheduled June 19 in front of Circuit Judge Ike Lamke.
Missourian Staff Writer Kavahn Mansouri contributed to the reporting in the story.