East LA Olympic Boxer Paul Gonzales Pleads Guilty To Child Sex Abuse
In 1984, Gonzales became the first American Latino man to win Olympic gold.
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – An Olympic gold-medal winning boxer will serve prison time after reaching a plea deal in the sexual assault of a young girl at an East Los Angeles gym where he was a trainer.
Fifty-seven-year-old Paul Gonzales, a 1984 Olympic boxing champion, appeared in L.A. County Superior Court Tuesday where he plead no contest to one count each of lewd act on a child under 14 and lewd act on a child age 14 or 15, according to Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson.
He was sentenced by a judge to three years and four months in state prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
The victim, who is now 17, chose not to speak at the sentencing. The victim’s grandmother told CBSLA Tuesday that her family were outraged at a sentencing that they argued amounts to a slap on the wrist. They were hoping he would get an 18-year sentence.
“He’s pleading no contest, not fair, she’s a child,” the victim’s grandmother told CBSLA outside the courtroom.
Back in December of 2017, Gonzales was arrested on four counts of committing lewd acts on a child under age 14, one count each of attempted lewd act upon a child, possession of child or youth pornography, distributing or showing pornography to a minor and contact with a minor for a sexual offense.
At the time, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said Gonzales sexually assaulted a 13-year-old female student he befriended and groomed at the Eddie Heredia Boxing Club on East Olympic Boulevard, where he had been a head coach for about 10 years. The boxing club is part of the L.A. County Parks and Recreation Department.
Shortly after his initial arrest, Gonzales bailed out of jail with the help of a GoFundMe page that raised $50,000 from the community.
The victim’s grandmother told CBSLA how she came to her family to ask for boxing lessons.
“She trusted him, she trusted him,” the victim’s grandmother said. “She was saying, ‘Mom I want to do boxing, can you get me in there?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ So my daughter and I looked it up and we found it, you know, he was right there. We went in, talked to him, and she started boxing.”
In April of 2020, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay $625,000 to the victim in order to settle a lawsuit, because Gonzales was a county employee.
In 1984, Gonzales became the first American Latino man to win Olympic gold, earning the medal in the light flyweight category for boxing. A short documentary made by Trans World Sport in 2014 tracked his rise as a child who broke free from gangs to become a youth mentor. He was even photographed with Muhammed Ali.
“It’s heartbreaking seeing her looking over her back all the time, thinking that he’s gonna come,” the victim’s grandmother said.
A second case was filed earlier this year involving a 14-year-old girl, whom Gonzales didn’t meet through his work as a coach, according to Thompson.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)