A Lakeland gymnastics coach has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.
Computer crime detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office arrested 21-year-old Alexander Katchalov after they found 21 videos and an image of boys and girls between the ages of three and 12 being sexually battered or displayed in a lewd manner.
ABC Action News was there when Katchalov was arrested and escorted to a deputy's patrol car before going to jail. He didn't have much to say, but only answered when asked if he ever inappropriately touched a child he taught.
"No. I did not. Please leave me alone," said Katchalov.
During a press conference, Sheriff Grady Judd said Katchalov coaches children between the ages of three and 15 at his parents' complex - Elite World Gymnastics training complex located on State Road 33 North in Lakeland. He added that Katchalov has provided both private and group lessons.
Parents were stunned to learn about the allegations.
"Everybody has been super nice like I would never in a million years have thought anything of that nature," said mother Renee Crum.
Judd said when they served the search warrant at the training complex, Katchalov confessed to downloading child pornography since 2011, but stated: "I have never messed with a child. I've simply downloaded child porn."
"Make no mistake, those who view, possess, buy, and trade child pornography are complicit in the crime against the child depicted in the images. Our primary concern in this investigation is to find out if there are any local victims. Our forensic experts will be searching the devices we have seized today to determine the scope of illegal material that he possesses or has transmitted. It makes all of us angry that someone who has regular access to graphic child pornography also has regular access to children. We encourage anyone who has reason to believe that there has been any inappropriate contact between Alexander Katchalov and a child to contact us," said Judd.
Judd said their initial investigation has also revealed that Katchalov went online and pretended to be a teenager, both a boy and a girl, in an effort to obtain child pornography.
When asked if he had an addiction, Katchalov told deputies that he considered it a problem, but thought he could control it.
"We are committed to protecting our children from those who possess and distribute child pornography. These men are a part of a worldwide underground child pornography distribution system - the demand for this vile material harms children, and ruins lives," said Judd.
Katchalov was arrested, charged, and booked into the Polk County Jail on 22 counts of possession of child pornography (F-2).
The investigation is on-going and additional charges are pending.
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