BEND, Ore. - Former Bend gymnastics coach Richard Gustafson pleaded not guilty Monday to nearly 130 counts of encouraging child sex abuse and one count of cocaine possession.
Gustafson, 49, entered the pleas to five first-degree counts of encouraging child sex abuse, 122 second-degree counts and the cocaine possession charge during a brief hearing before Deschutes County Circuit Judge Barbara Haslinger, who set a trial date of Nov. 18th. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for July 18th.
Gustafson originally was arrested in early January on abuse charges involving two girls at the gymnastics and martial arts business he co-founded, Acrovision Sports Center. Two other girls came forward after that arrest, leading to a total of 11 counts of first-degree sex abuse, all involving girls ages 8 to 10.
Prosecutors said the charges stemmed from three sleepovers Gustafson held at the business, including two earlier ones, in the spring of 2012 and last Halloween. They said he invited a few select students to a loft during the sleepovers and would sleep next to the girls, during which the abuse allegedly occurred.
Gustafson's bail initially was set at $1.34 million, but a judge later lowered it to $200,000, and he was released Jan. 16th after posting 10 percent of that amount.
In late April, Gustafson pleaded not guilty to those charges, and an Oct. 28th trial date was set.
Gustafson was re-arrested on Feb. 14th on the charges of encouraging child sex abuse, with each count representing a different image allegedly found in his possession. Investigators had seized all computers and cellphones from Gustafson's home.
Encouraging child sex abuse in the second degree, a Class C felony, involves possessing or viewing visual recordings of, or observing sexually explicit conduct involving a child.
First-degree charges, a Class B felony, involve possessing or viewing such visual recordings with the intent to "disseminate, exchange, display or sell" them.
Gustafson was again released from jail on the new charges March 7th after posting 10 percent of his $300,000 bail, records show.
Olympic silver medalist Mohini Barry, the gym's other co-owner, said she bought all of the assets after Gustafson's arrest and has started a new business, Oregon Olympic Athletics, which is due to move to a new location later this month.
Tune into NewsChannel 21 tonight at Five and Six to see Gustafson's court appearance.