Marvin Sharp, USA Gymnastics “Elite” Coach Arrested for Child Molestation

Once again, an Indianapolis coach is in the news for child molestation.

Marvin Sharp, owner of Sharp Gymnastics and an “elite gymnastics coach,” was arrested after the Crimes Against Children unit of the IMPD raided his home Sunday evening. According to, Sharp’s “list of accomplishments is long, including USA Artistic Coach of the year [and] USA Gymnastics Elite National Coach of the Year.” According to the USA Gymnastics website, he also coached the 2009 World All Around Champion.

I’m sick for the parents who trusted their sons and daughters to this man, but sadly, I am not surprised by his actions. Although most of my work has focused on abusive coaches in swimming, we know that this happens in every sport. And we know that the NGBs for each different sport know about it, too. It isn’t that coaches have all of a sudden started abusing their athletes — it’s just that they’re starting to get caught.

Although there are very few details about what exactly Marvin Sharp did to get himself arrested for child molestation, we can make some general assumptions. The betrayal that his athletes and their families will feel, particularly those involved, is surely immense. If my child went to Sharp Gymnastics, I would feel not only betrayed, but hurt, pissed off, disgusted, and I’d probably feel a little guilty for not seeing it coming. But this is not the parents’ fault, and it is most certainly not the fault of a child, adolescent, or teenager. This is Marvin Sharp’s fault, and any adults in USA Gymnastics who knew or suspected something, but did nothing because Marvin Sharp produced World Champion gymnasts (and I KNOW they’re out there), are no less culpable.


Sexually abusive coaches in the news

The psychoanalytic term is sublimation. It means taking a socially unacceptable impulse and turning it into something socially acceptable or productive. A classic example is a child who has an impulse to cut the tails off of dogs might grow up to become a surgeon. Unfortunately, the example I see over and over again is a pedophile who becomes a coach – it’s a socially acceptable way to be around kids.

Every now and then, I Google “coach abuse” to see what comes up. Sadly, a lot has been going on in the last few weeks:

In Cooper City, Florida, a youth baseball coach, David Solomon, has been arrested for lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual assault. “Authorities say two 11-year-old boys have accused the 47-year-old Solomon, their former baseball coach, of molesting them on multiple times.”[1] In 2000, he had been charged with a similar crime, but the charges were later dropped.[2]

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, “A former diving coach [Patrick Fatta] for two local high schools . . . admitted to having child pornography and sexually abusing a pre-teen.”[3] The child pornography investigation began last year, and it was during the course of that investigation that the “police discovered Fatta touched a girl at his home between 2009 and 2013 . . . .”[4]

Only a few months ago, we first started hearing about Joseph Michael Diaz, a swim coach and teacher who has been molesting young boys for years.

Kids and parents trust coaches. They are particularly vulnerable to that trust, and predatory coaches will always exploit it. It is never acceptable.









[4] Id.