Skeleton olympic gold medalist charged with sexual abuse of a child

Skeleton olympic gold medalist charged with sexual abuse of a child
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A former Olympic athlete made his first court appearance Monday in Utah after he was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sexual battery, according to The Associated Press.

James "Jimmy" Shea, who won a gold medal in skeleton racing at the 2002 Winter games in Salt Lake City, Utah, appeared in court over an incident that allegedly occurred in 2020.

Shea was originally charged on March 24 in Utah's Summit County’s 3rd District Court with aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and two counts of sexual battery, according to the Deseret News.

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Shea's lawyer, Salt Lake City-based attorney Rudy J. Bautista, said the charges stemmed from a family misunderstanding and contends they should be dropped, adding that in the situation, Shea was acting lovingly and affectionately.

Shea plans to plead not guilty, according to the AP reports.

In a statement to The Hill, Bautista called the charges against Shea "unfounded," dubbing them "the product of a child with extremely competitive parents in a highly contentious belabored divorce." 

He added, "If Jimmy is guilty of anything, it is of being a loving and affectionate parent."

Bautista said the child is not someone that Shea interacted with in his role as coach, but rather was a family member. 

"We will present evidence that this is a ploy," he added. "We look forward to presenting our case in court to clear Jimmy’s good name."

Shea has been honored for his contribution to the sporting world as an inductee of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame and the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Hall of Fame.

Since his gold medal win, he founded the The Shea Family Foundation, which helps raise money for kids to participate in sports, ABC 4 reports.

Updated 5:37 p.m.