Last year’s $1 million winner of TV’s “American Ninja Warrior” competition lured an underage girl to New Jersey and Connecticut for sex, said federal authorities who arrested him.
The girl’s mother confronted Andrew Drechsel, 31, after discovering he’d had sex with her daughter at his “Ninja Gym” in Hamden, CT as a 15th birthday present, authorities said.
Drechsel, who was 26 at the time, didn’t deny the abuse but, rather, claimed that he didn’t know her daughter’s age, they said.
He reached out and met the girl again for several sexual encounters in New Jersey, at least one of which was in Cherry Hill, a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Camden alleges.
Drechsel tried to hide the relationship from both his girlfriend and authorities, telling the New Jersey teen to delete their messages and to only use WiFi and not cell networks to communicate with him because it was “a safe way to talk,” it says.
Using Skype, he had sexually explicit sessions with the girl, the FBI charged.
Agents said they found several sexually explicit images and a video of the victim dating back to when she was 14 on his phone, which was seized during a raid of his home in St. Cloud, FL last November.
The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Dreschel in Orlando on Tuesday. He was being held in the Seminole County Jail before they bring him to New Jersey.
Federal authorities in Camden charged Dreschel with manufacture of child pornography – for getting the girl to send him sexual images – as well as enticement of a minor to travel for sex, traveling with the intent of having sex with a minor and use of interstate commerce to entice a minor.
Dreschel reportedly was only the third person to complete all stages of the “American Ninja” obstacle-course competition last year after twice finishing as the “Last Ninja Standing.”
NBC, in a statement Wednesday, said: "We are shocked and disturbed to learn about the charges alleged against Drew Drechsel. 'American Ninja Warrior' is a family show that has inspired countless people, and we will not let the actions of one contestant tarnish the hard work and amazing stories of so many. Moving forward, the 'American Ninja Warrior' brand will sever all ties with Mr. Drechsel, including his appearance on future seasons of the show."
Carpenito credited agents with the FBI South Jersey Resident Agency for the investigation.
Assisting, he said, were the Camden and Burlington county prosecutor’s officers, Cherry Hill police, police in Hamden and Windsor, CT, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut, agents of the FBI New Haven Division, the Hartford and New Haven state’s attorney’s offices and agents of the FBI Tampa/Orlando Resident Agency.
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Alisa Shver of Carpenito’s Criminal Division in Camden.
Federal authorities asked that alleged victims or those who know them contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or report it at tips.fbi.gov.
“Identified victims may be eligible for certain services and rights under federal and/or state law,” Carpenito said.
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