Updated July 25, 2022 - 2:38 pm
A Las Vegas judge had harsh words on Monday for a former USA gymnastics coach sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison for lewdness and child abuse charges.
“Your conduct is reprehensible,” District Judge Tara Clark Newberry told Terry Gray during his sentencing hearing. “You stole innocent childhood from innocent children.”
In September 2020, Gray was indicted on 45 felony and gross misdemeanor charges, including 25 counts of lewdness with a child under 14 and five counts of sexual assault, court records show. Prosecutors have said Gray was a physically and mentally abusive coach who inappropriately touched at least 10 girls in Las Vegas.
Gray, 54, pleaded guilty in March to felony counts of attempted lewdness of a child under 14 and child abuse, neglect or endangerment.
Clark Newberry sentenced Gray to between two and eight years in prison. She also ordered him to be placed on lifetime supervision after he is released, and he will be required to register as a sex offender.
Former gymnasts from Brown’s Gymnastics, a USA Gymnastics-sanctioned gym in Las Vegas, watched in the courtroom and through video calls as two victims spoke during Gray’s sentencing hearing on Monday.
Standing next to each other wearing matching white suits, Tiffani Simmons and Matalasiaufaiga Peko described an abusive environment they said Gray created under the guise of pushing them to be Olympic-level athletes.
“This man is someone who should never be given the opportunity to be in the presence of children,” Peko told the judge. “He’s a narcissistic pedophile who took pleasure in manipulating, abusing and destroying countless young women.”
Gray and his lawyer did not speak during the hearing. His defense attorney, Nicholas Wooldridge, did not reply to a request for comment.
The former coach, who had been free on $50,000 bail, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs after he was sentenced.
A nearly 70-page arrest report detailed interviews with parents, former coaches and former gymnasts who claimed Gray was “grooming” them.
According to the report, Gray massaged girls’ upper thighs in front of athletes and coaches, sometimes pulling down their leotards. He kissed girls on the face, cheek and mouth. And he was accused of positioning himself or touching girls inappropriately while they practiced handstands or swinging from bars, the report said.
Gray also was accused of frequently slapping girls’ buttocks, and multiple gymnasts said they took laxatives or developed eating disorders under his coaching, according to the report.
In January 2021, seven women filed a lawsuit against Brown’s Gymnastics and its former owner, Dayna Waroe, alleging Gray was allowed “unfettered access to young gymnasts.” The plaintiffs alleged that from 2009 to 2015, Gray “inflicted upon them a disturbing pattern” of sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
The complaint alleged Waroe and the gym “knew or had a reason to know” that Gray abused the girls, and that “physical, psychological and emotional abuse” continued under Waroe after Gray left the gym. The civil case is pending.
Waroe’s attorneys did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Monday.
Simmons told the judge she was 13 when Gray began coaching at the gym in 2009. Over the years, Simmons said, Gray manipulated her family into trusting him.
She said while she was in high school Gray began picking her up from school and taking her to doctor’s appointments. Four years after they met, Simmons said, Gray kissed her for the first time.
“I now realize that I was taken advantage of in a very vulnerable moment, and little did I know that this moment would open the doors for me to be sexually abused for the next five or so years,” Simmons said.
Toward the end of her remarks, Simmons asked Gray if he ever thought about how he was affecting her and the other gymnasts he coached.
“You are a grown adult, and you knew exactly what you were doing,” she said.