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Police seek new victims in Texas gymnastics coach sex abuse case going back 40 years

Mike Spiller has been involved in Texas gymnastics for 57 years.
Texas Public Radio
Mike Spiller has been involved in Texas gymnastics for 57 years.

A gymnastics coach in Texas has been accused of sexually assaulting children going back nearly 40 years.

Law enforcement is searching for additional victims of the man who worked in three other states and several other countries.

One of the allegations against gymnastics camp owner Mike Spiller dates back to the 1980s.

At present, six women and girls have accused Spiller of impropriety and crimes ranging from fondling and groping them to recording them while they slept.

"It extends way past that to the point that he's shuttling young girls around in a van and masturbating in front of them," said Nick Socias, a special victims prosecutor in Kendall County.

Spiller — who was indicted Tuesday on a third degree felony — was in recent years honored with the prestigious Life Membership Award by the Gymnastics Association of Texas.

“He was a seemingly very well respected member of the children's gymnastics community,” said Socias.

Police in Boerne are seeking additional victims. Before building his career in Texas, Spiller worked in New Mexico, California, Hawaii and overseas. At one point, he coached the Swiss Jr. national team — according to his bio from a state association website.

“Many of the girls I trained made the 1985 World Championship Team in Montreal,” Spiller wrote in his induction biography.

Much of his career was focused on youth, offering trainings at schools, working at Boys and Girls Clubs, and with daycare programs.

Since the first victim came forward in October, five others have emerged in Houston and Boerne — a bedroom community outside of San Antonio. Given the range in time of allegations, police don't have a full picture of the scope of possible victims.

“If you said what we have now is it I would say ‘okay,’ or if you came back tenfold? I wouldn't be surprised either,” said Socias.

The first woman, now an adult, told police that when she was 12-year-old, she attended Spiller’s “Circus Arts for Kids” program in 2001 at the Boerne Gymnastics Center.

While there, Spiller would “touch and grope her below the waist on her genital area,” according to the arrest affidavit. Spiller would record the girls sleeping with a camcorder set up in their room at a local hotel and at times expose himself to the girls while transporting them to the camp. He would then masturbate, according to the affidavit.

Boxes of media were removed from the facility where Spiller lived and worked. According to public records, they include 8mm film spools, VHS tapes, two binders of photo negatives, a photo album, undeveloped film, a container filled with recordable DVDs, a computer hard drive, and handwritten letters. The search warrant says police were attempting to determine if child pornography was present. That has yet to be determined.

This is not the first time a child was assaulted by a former Boerne Gymnastics Center employee. In 2005, Paul Hengel — a 36-year-old former coach — admitted to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl he had once coached at the facility.

At the time, the owner of Boerne Gymnastics Lorna Spellman defended Hengel and dismissed the claims, according to sources with knowledge. The family of the girl went to law enforcement. Spellman would tell media at the time that she had never received complaints about the coach who worked there off and on for years and departed in 2001.

Spellman owns and operates the facility and lives on the campus. Spiller also lived there. She was not immediately available for comment.

“It has been my joy to be a part of the Texas gymnastics family for the past 57 years,” wrote Spiller in his 2017 induction biography. ”If I had it all to do again — yes I would change a few things, but for the most part I would do it all over again.”