Ex-gymnastics coach sentenced to 35 years in prison after grooming, sexually assaulting child in Montgomery County

Authorities asking for potential other victims to come forward; See the full list of gyms where Neptali Narvaez-Rojas once worked, according to county officials

Neptali Narvaez-Rojas (Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office)

HOUSTON – A former gymnastics coach was sentenced to 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault of a child, authorities announced Wednesday.

Neptali Narvaez-Rojas, 57, agreed to serve three sentences of 20, 10, and 5 years consecutively, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. The charges and plea stem from abuse on one victim in Montgomery County.

Due to the nature of the charges and the plea, Narvaez-Rojas will be required to serve a minimum of 17 and a half years before he is eligible for parole.

The punishment range for sexual assault of a child is two to 20 years in prison.

On March 22, 2021, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit received a case referral regarding a reported sexual assault of a child committed by a gymnastics coach who, at the time, was employed by Maximum Athletics Gym located in Magnolia.

Detective Max Fruchtnicht investigated the sexual abuse along with other Special Victim’s Unit detectives. Montgomery County’s Children’s Advocacy Center, Children’s Safe Harbor, provided services and coordinated the multidisciplinary team response.

Detectives obtained and executed several search warrants on Narvaez-Rojas’ electronic devices, social media accounts, and residence, where they obtained evidence of repeated sexual abuse by Narvaez-Rojas against the victim.

Narvaez-Rojas was arrested on March 30 at his home in Fort Bend County.

Detectives learned that Narvaez-Rojas groomed and used his position of trust and authority to perpetuate his abuse. The investigation determined that Narvaez-Rojas had access to countless children for many years during his employment as a gymnastics coach. Narvaez-Rojas has worked at the following gyms: Maximum Athletics in Magnolia, Texas, Fun Fitness Gymnastics in Richmond, Texas, Champions Gymnastics in Katy, Texas, Oklahoma Gold Gymnastics, Chow Gymnastics and Dance in West Des Moines, Iowa, International Boys Gymnastics in Oklahoma, Jenks Gymnastics in Oklahoma, American Gymnastics, Krafft Gymnastics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, National Sports Institute in Venezuela, Meirici School in Venezuela, Military Academy of Venezuela, Maria Auxiliadora School in Nueva Esparta State, Venezuelan Gymnastics Federation, Manuel Montaner School in Venezuela, and Guayamuri School in Venezuela.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Victims Unit worked closely with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and Children’s Safe Harbor to investigate this case. Forensic Analysts with the Houston Metro ICAC Taskforce, employed by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, analyzed the seized electronic devices. The Gulf Coast Violent Offender Regional Fugitive Task Force and Ft. Bend County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation and apprehension of Narvaez-Rojas.

SafeSports, a nonprofit organization that investigates allegations of sexual misconduct within U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports, also assisted local law enforcement agencies. Special Victim Division Chief Shanna Redwine and Crimes Against Children Section Chief Lisa Stewart prosecuted the case.

This plea resolves charges against one identified victim and does not preclude prosecution on behalf of any unknown victims. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office asks other potential victims to contact 936-760-5800 and speak with a Detective.

“People who sexually abuse children typically don’t stop on their own; they must be stopped,” Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said via a news release. “People who sexually abuse children rarely feel sorry for what they’ve done; they only feel sorry they got caught. In this case, we’ve identified one of this man’s victims and held him accountable for his actions, but if there are children out there who have suffered at his hands, we pray that they will come forward, too.”

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.