A former volunteer wrestling coach in Wisconsin filmed and sexually abused athletes more than10 years ago, police say. The ex-coach now faces criminal charges.
According to police, the case began in 2021 when an adult user on the dating app Grindr was posing as a 15-year-old and someone was trying to meet up with him for sex.
Police took over the account and posed as the supposed 15-year-old to set up a meeting with Benigno “Bennie” Velasquez, 60.
Velasquez was arrested in March on computer and enticement charges, police said.
However, news of his arrest prompted a former Racine Horlick High School wrestler to report to the police he had been molested by Velasquez while a student around 2009, authorities said.
The alleged abuse took place in a van during travel to a wrestling tournament and once at the home of either Velasquez or the assistant coach, police said.
The victim said Velasquez would often grab their genitals while claiming the holds were legitimate wrestling moves, police said.
The victim also said Velasquez worked at an Army Reserve Center and would offer to get them military gear if they let him take pictures or touch them improperly.
Many of the boys on the team suspected Velasquez was filming them in the locker room and even called him out on it, but he insisted he was texting someone, according to authorities.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the victim did not report any of the activity at the time “because that is not what people did then” and he “felt pressured not to bring shame on his family by reporting it.”
The victim said after Velasquez was arrested, “he decided he needed to come forward and speak up” and he didn’t want Velasquez to “get away with victimizing people.”
Authorities obtained search warrants at the time for Velasquez’s house and recovered computers, cell phones and digital storage devices, which contained images of naked boys in a locker room.
In April, another former wrestler went to police and told them Velasquez showed him a wrestling move in reality abuse.
The second victim said his time on the team was “emotionally traumatizing,” and Velasquez would often wrestle the boys and give them rubdowns with oil.
That victim added Velasquez took photos of him in his underwear, told him he should be aroused and would touch and kiss him.
Velasquez now faces more than two dozen charges, including three counts of sexual assault of a child, sixteen counts of capturing images of nudity without consent and six counts of possessing child pornography.
He is being held on $25,000 bail and his case is set for a preliminary hearing on May 13.