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American Ninja Warrior Winner Drew Drechsel, 31, is arrested on child sex and pornography charges

American Ninja Warrior winner Andrew ‘Drew’ Drechsel has been arrested on a series of child sex crime charges, including luring an underage girl for sex and manufacturing child pornography. 

Drechsel, 31, was arrested at his home in St. Cloud, Florida on Tuesday, the US Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey announced in a press release.

Known by his nickname ‘the Real Life Ninja’, Drechsel allegedly began a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl in New Jersey back in 2015, documents obtained by DailyMail.com show. 

Drechsel apparently met the alleged victim at an American Ninja Warrior contestant event, where they exchanged numbers and began texting one another. 

During their purported correspondence, Drechsel is said to have arranged for the girl – who lived in New Jersey at the time – to visit his gym, the Real Life Ninja Academy, in Hamden, Connecticut in July 2015 as a present for her 15th birthday.

The pair exchanged text messages about ‘plans for sexual activity’ in the lead up to her visit, the complaint states.

During her visit to the gym, Drechsel and the girl reportedly became intimate inside his office after his girlfriend, April Beckner, left the premises.

Prosecutors say Drechsel laid out a mattress and blanket behind a wall in his office where he allegedly had sex with the teen.

The girl told her mother about the alleged sexual encounter later the same day. 

When the mother confronted Drechsel about the incident, she claims he ‘did not deny the sexual activity, but rather stated he did not know her age at the time’.

Just weeks later, Drechsel contacted the victim again where they discussed having sexual relations again, prosecutors say.

The Ninja Warrior champion allegedly told the victim that the next time they met, unlike on the previous occasion they would not have ‘time to deal with [victim’s] shyness and timidity’.

The teen is said to have confessed that though she was nervous it wouldn’t happen again.

‘PSH, we’ll see I guess,’ Drechsel is said to have responded, to which the girl said she’d ‘be better’ for him the next time they met.

The following January, Drechsel texted the girl to inform her he was travelling from Connecticut to New Jersey and reportedly told her he wanted to meet for another sexual encounter.

He reportedly picked the teen girl up from her home, and drove her to the parking lot of a restaurant in Marlton where they had sex.

Having reviewed Drechsel’s bank account activity, investigators say his card was charged at the Marlton restaurant for $37.76 on January 2, 2016 – the same day the girl claims the sexual encounter occurred.

According to the girl, Drechsel picked up food after the encounter ended so he would have an excuse to tell his girlfriend when he returned home.

The girl claimed that they had sex several more times between the time she was 15 and 17 years old, according to the complaint.

They would also communicate regularly on Skype, where Drechsel allegedly instructed the girl to remove all of her clothes on numerous occasions and filmed the encounters on his cell phone without her knowledge.

Sexual images and video footage of the girl was found by investigators on Drechsel’s old cell phone, according to the complaint. One of the images was taken when she was just 14.

In a text exchanged dated June 26, 2016, when the girl was 16-years-old, Drechsel reportedly messaged her saying ‘Skype now?’

The girl responded that she didn’t feel comfortable video chatting Drechsel, allegedly adding that she ‘felt he was not enjoying himself’.

Drechsel reportedly reassured her, ‘It’s always fun for me, you’re always fantastic and I wish I were there to help.’

The victim came forward to police in June 2019, the complaint states. Officers spoke to the mother of the girl, now 19, who confirmed that her daughter confided in her when the sexual relationship began. 

According to the mother, she didn’t report the incident to police at the time because her daughter threatened to harm herself if she did.

The charges against Drechsel include manufacture of child pornography, enticement of a minor to travel for illicit sexual conduct, travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and use of interstate commerce to entice a minor.

Drechsel’s lawyer, Frank Riccio, said Tuesday that his client plans to plead not guilty to all charges.

‘Mr. Drechsel is presumed innocent of the charges and that presumption will remain throughout the pendency of his case,’ Riccio tweeted. ‘He intends on entering a “not guilty” plea. It is respectfully requested that you respect the privacy of Mr. Drechsel and his family.’

Drechsel and Beckner welcomed their first child together, a baby boy, in December last year.

In the hours since the complaint was released, Beckner has deleted her public social media profiles and Drechsel has turned his Instagram account private.

Drechsel, who made the winning rope climb for Team USA in the 2019 ‘USA vs. the World’ American Ninja Warrior competition, and who also participated on Team USA earlier this year, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for use of interstate commerce to entice a minor.

The additional four charges he faces carry a combined maximum sentence of 95 years in prison, with a maximum fine of $250,000 per count.

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