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Yohel Gattaz update: Former Scottsdale cheer coach accused of child molestation pleads not guilty

Posted at 9:39 AM, Jul 01, 2016

A former Scottsdale cheerleading coach is accused of molesting two of his former athletes.

Yohel Gattaz on Friday pled not guilty to one count of child molestation, two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of sexual abuse, and one count of aggravated assault on a minor.

The 21-year-old worked at Desert Storm Elite in Scottsdale for a little less than a year. The two incidents occurred between January and March of this year. The owner of the gym, Eric Contreras, confirmed with ABC15 that Gattaz was fired in May.

"It was difficult because we do extensive background checks on all our employees and there was no criminal record," he said. "We take very good care of our kids and our families. It's a safe place for children. It always has been and always will be."

Court paperwork says that Phoenix police received a report on May 17 and contacted the victim's mother. The mother reported to police that another child may also have been victimized by Gattaz. The other victim's mother contacted the Scottsdale Police Department.

Both 14-year-old girls reported to police that in separate incidents they were inappropriately touched by Gattaz, one saying she tried to "roll away" from Gattaz but he grabbed her and pulled her back toward him.

The other victim told Gattaz, "This isn't right, this is illegal."

The locations of the incidents were not listed in the court documents. However, emails sent to parents say the incident happened off the gym’s property. It also says that all Desert Storm Elite employees must pass a background check. That's something Contreras says Gattaz passed.

The owner, who declined an on-camera interview request, is adamant that no abuse took place on his business' property and that nothing like this has happened at Desert Storm before.

Parents wrote to ABC15 concerned that Gattaz could have more victims because of his proximity to teens at the gym and all of the time spent on the road at competitions.

When Gattaz was arrested on June 16, he immediately requested an attorney and was not asked any questions. 

Pam White, a mother of two, said one of her daughters was coached by Gattaz last year. She said she never had any issues with the gym and described Gattaz as professional.

"I've always had a positive experience at the gym. The gym has become a second family for my daughters and I've always felt I've been very well informed by the gym with information parents needed to note," she said.

Still, she said she'll wait until police complete their investigation before determining if he'll coach her daughters again.

Matt Hilscher, Gattaz's attorney, said, "It's important to remember at this point these are merely allegations and Mr. Gattaz, this line of work makes him susceptible to these types of allegations." 

Online jail records indicated a judge set his bond at $150,000.