UPDATED, 12:20 PM: American Ninja Warrior has severed ties with last year’s winner Drew Drechsel following his arrest on federal child sex-related charges.
NBCUniversal and producer A. Smith & Co released the following statement Wednesday:
“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.
PREVIOUS, August 4, 8:41 PM: American Ninja Warrior winner Drew Drechsel was arrested Tuesday following accusations of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey, Drechsel, who won the last season of NBC’s athletic competition show, was arrested in his Florida home. The office’s official press release detailed that Drechsel, 31, traveled to New Jersey to engage in sexual activity with a minor. The Florida native also encouraged the girl to send him inappropriate pictures of herself.
Drechsel is being charged with manufacture of child pornography, enticement of a minor to travel for illicit sexual conduct, among other crimes.
Official documents say that Drechsel and his victim met in 2014 at an event also attended by other American Ninja Warrior contestants. The two exchanged phone numbers and began texting each other. Drechsel invited the girl, who was 15 at the time, to his Connecticut gym where they engaged in sexual behavior, the report details.
When the girl’s mother spoke to Drechsel about the incident, the report explains that the American Ninja Warrior star, then 26, “did not deny the sexual activity, but rather stated he did not know her age at the time.” Drechsel and the girl continued to meet multiple times after 2014. They continued speaking with each other until June 2019.
Dreschel’s lawyer Frank J. Riccio II posted a statement on Twitter on behalf of the athlete.
“Mr. Drechsel is presumed innocent of the charges and that presumption will remain throughout the pendency of his case. He intends on entering a ‘not guilty’ plea,” the lawyer wrote. “It is respectfully requested that you respect the privacy of Mr. Drechsel and his family.”
Drechsel and Riccio were not readily available for comment.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.