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Former Illinois Coach Allegedly Videotaped Gymnast in Locker Room

A former University of Illinois gymnastics coach has been charged with secretly videotaping a gymnast in a campus locker room.

John Valdez, who coached U.S. Olympian Justin Spring at the Beijing Olympics, was charged Tuesday with one count of unauthorized videotaping, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said. The charge is a Class 4 felony and carries a potential sentence of one to three years in prison.

Valdez resigned from the university in October, citing personal issues.

A gymnast training on Sept. 25 with Valdez in the gym used by the men's gymnastics team noticed a handheld video camera partially hidden under a T-shirt in an open locker, Rietz said.

The 22-year-old gymnast, who is a student, reported the camera to Valdez, but later called campus police and found the incident had never been reported to them, the prosecutor said.

Police who later searched the 40-year-old Valdez's Urbana home found the camera.

"The images had been deleted, but the technicians were able to restore the deleted images," Rietz said. She didn't immediately comment on what was on the tape.

Lance Northcutt, a Chicago attorney representing Valdez, did not immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press.

Valdez has no local telephone listing, and neither Rietz nor the university's athletics department knew how to reach him Wednesday.

Valdez is scheduled to appear in court in Urbana on Dec. 12.

Rietz didn't believe other recordings were made and said no other charges were planned.

Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said the locker room isn't used by the general student population, and school officials have no reason to believe cameras were placed anywhere else on campus. The university plans no changes in its security based on the charges against Valdez, Brown added.

"I think we've done everything possible to ensure the safety and security of our student athletes," he said.

Valdez also faces a drunk-driving charge in Waukesha County in Wisconsin after a Sept. 18 arrest. He's pleaded not guilty.

Valdez coached at Illinois from 2000 until his resignation on Oct. 17.

He also was the personal coach for Olympic gymnast and fellow Illinois assistant coach Spring. Valdez accompanied Spring to the Beijing Olympics, where the U.S. men won the bronze medal.

Earlier this year, the university announced that Valdez would succeed head coach Yoshi Hayasaki when Hayasaki retired following the current season. The university has since hired a new assistant coach, two-time Olympian Ivan Ivankov from Belarus.