Former Brookfield gymnastics coach charged with rape to get trial date
Published 8:20 pm, Sunday, September 27, 2009
WOBURN, Mass. -- Twenty-one months after Steven Infante of New Milford was charged with sexually abusing his young female gymnastics students, a Middlesex County judge on Monday is expected to set a trial date for the once highly regarded coach.
The 53-year-old Infante, the former owner of Olympia Gymnastics in Brookfield, was indicted by a Middlesex grand jury in November 2007 after a Colorado woman who is now an adult contacted police in Massachusetts and told them Infante initiated a sexual relationship with her in the early 1990s.
At the time, the girl, who was 14, was attending a gymnastics camp Infante ran with his long-time friend and fellow coach Steve DiTullio.
The resulting investigation uncovered numerous tales of alcohol use and sexually charged horseplay between the coaches and some of the female students who attended the camps, conduct that authorities said was a way to "groom" the underage girls for sex.
Infante was also indicted for sexually abusing another girl, and authorities said several other incidents couldn't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired.
DiTullio, of Littleton, was indicted by the grand jury on a charge of perjury. Prosecutors claim he lied when he denied any knowledge of alcohol being provided to the teenage gymnasts.
In the late 1990s, Infante was considered one of the leading gymnastics coaches in Connecticut, but his star began to dim in 1998 when he was sanctioned by USA Gymnastics, the sport's national governing board, after questions were raised about improper relationships with students.
A year earlier, three former Olympia gymnasts told USAG officials that they had lengthy, consensual sexual relationships with Infante between 1993 and 1997. But because the women were at least 16 years old when the relationships, no criminal charges were filed.
USAG imposed a lifetime ban barring Infante from coaching, but he circumvented the restriction by working at camps run by his friends, according to law enforcement officials.
Staff writer John Pirro contributed to this Associated Press report