CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A gymnastics coach has been indicted on charges that he repeatedly raped one of his teenage students and molested another student in the 1990s.
Steven Infante, 51, of New Milford, Conn., was indicted by a Middlesex grand jury on Friday on one count of rape, one count of rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.
Infante turned himself in Wednesday and was released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty at his arraignment in Middlesex Superior Court.
"We allege that the defendant, Steven Infante, took advantage of his position of authority to exert control over, manipulate, and sexually assault these young vulnerable girls," Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement. "We also allege that the defendant engaged in a pattern of 'grooming' the young victims in an effort to gradually make them more accepting of his escalating, inappropriate, and ultimately criminal sexual contact with them."
Infante "absolutely denies these allegations ... and he looks forward to fighting these allegations in court," said his lawyer, Peter Russell.
Russell said he could not comment on why the alleged victims came forward because he has not yet seen the evidence presented to the grand jury.
Prosecutors said Infante had a secret sexual relationship with the first victim that began when she was 14 and did not end until she was 21. The girl became pregnant at age 17, and several months later, Infante drove her to a clinic and paid for her to have an abortion, according to summary of the case filed in court Wednesday.
Infante is currently the president of Five Star Gymnastics Overnight Camp, most recently held in Springfield, as well as the former owner of Olympia Gymnastics in Brookfield, Conn. He also owns an art dealership in Connecticut, Russell said.
In Connecticut, two search warrants were executed last July in Brookfield and New Milford in connection with the investigation involving Infante, according to Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky. He said no arrests have been made.
Another gymnastics coach, Stephen DiTullio, 53, of Littleton, was also indicted on a charge of perjury in connection with his grand jury testimony during the investigation. Prosecutors said he lied when he denied any knowledge of alcohol being provided to the teenage gymnasts.
An attorney for DiTullio did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Prosecutors described Infante and DiTullio as best friends. Both men owned gyms and held competitions between the gymnasts they each coached.
In court documents, prosecutors said Infante met the first alleged victim when she was 13 at a gymnastics meet between his gymnasts and DiTullio's students.
Prosecutors said that over the next two years, Infante flirted with the girl and initiated sexual contact with her. He allegedly had sexual intercourse with her for the first time when she was 15 during a sleepover at DiTullio's house in Littleton. After that, he had sex with the girl regularly for several years, prosecutors said.
The second victim told police Infante molested her repeatedly over several years. She said she remembers being 16 when he first molested her because he was 36 and she was disgusted by their age difference, according to court documents.
Infante is charged with rape, rape of a child and indecent assault and battery of a person over 14 for the incidents involving the first victim, and indecent assault and battery of a person over 14 in the case of the second victim.
Both men are due back in court on Dec. 14.