CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – The brother of the owners of Twins Gymnastics in Coral Springs is accused of molesting several girls who attend the gymnastics center, authorities said.
According to an arrest report, police were notified Wednesday that Leonardo Suarez Alvarez, 52, of Tamarac, had been inappropriately touching students.
Police said officers separated the parents and children before interviewing the victims about the accusations against Suarez Alvarez.
According to the arrest report, all five of the victims, who range in age from 7 to 10, told detectives similar stories about how Suarez Alvarez had touched their breasts over their clothing.
One of the 10-year-old girls told detectives she reported the incidents to "Ms. Maria," one of the owners, and Maria told her she would tell her brother to stop.
But the girl said Suarez Alvarez continued to touch her inappropriately and she witnessed him inappropriately touching other girls, as well.
Police said the most recent incident with Suarez Alvarez occurred Tuesday and the allegations date back as far as two years ago.
According to the gymnastics center website, the business is owned by twin sisters Maria Elena and Maria del Carmen Suarez.
Police said Suarez Alvarez is a volunteer at the center.
Elizabeth Kirschner was visiting the gym at the same time Local 10's cameras showed up Thursday.
She was there trying to decide whether or not to send her kids to the program, and said she is disgusted by the accusations, but not surprised.
"We hear about things like this a lot and we've certainly heard about this in gymnastics nationally, so surprise isn't a huge word, but (it's) scary because it's so close to home."
Another woman, Monica Shelton, told Local 10 News reporter Ian Margol that her 10-year-old daughter used to attend the center. She said she showed up to confront the owners after hearing about Suarez Alvarez's arrest.
"My children are my best friends. They're a blessing. Anyone who is out to hurt or seems like they're doing wrong by them, they have to answer to me," Shelton said.
Shelton said she pulled her daughter, Summer, out of the gym about two and half weeks ago because someone made her feel uncomfortable.
When she asked Summer who made her uncomfortable, Summer said, "Leonardo."
"It hurts because I'm mama bear, as people know, and I don't leave my children with anyone," Shelton said.
Suarez Alvarez was arrested Wednesday on five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a victim less than 12.
According to the arrest report, Suarez Alvarez is a citizen of Ecuador and is considered a flight risk by authorities.
He has been ordered held without bond.
An employee at the gymnastics center told Margol that the owners were not in Thursday, but that business is continuing as usual.
Detectives believe there is a possibility other victims exist and are urging anyone with further information about Suarez Alvarez to call Detective Hallman at 954-346-1343.