Gym coach allegedly abused seven girls

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A former well-respected gymnastics coach with decades of experience in gyms across Australia has denied sexually assaulting seven girls over 22 years.

Daniel Gordon Benson, 56, was once named Levels Coach of the Year by Gymnastics NSW, but his reputation took a hit when he was arrested in his west Sydney home in September, 2021.

He was first charged with sexually touching students between 2020 and 2021.

And now, he has proclaimed his innocence against not only those charges but also historic ones dating as far back as 1999.

At the NSW District Court on Friday, Benson pleaded not guilty to 19 charges against seven girls spanning more than two decades.

Daniel Benson faced court on 19 charges.Daniel Benson faced court on 19 charges.

These included sexual intercourse without consent twice against one girl in January 1999 and three counts of assault with act of indecency against two girls between January 2000 and July 2001 – all in Brookvale in Sydney’s north.

Then, between January 2003 and May 2004, he allegedly committed assault with an act of indecency against another girl, and 11 sex acts against a fifth girl aged 14 and 15 at the time.

Those 11 alleged acts included six assaults with an act of indecency and five counts of sexual intercourse without consent. They allegedly happened in the North Sydney suburbs of Brookvale, Frenchs Forest, Forestville, Cromer and Dee Why.

The former gym coach’s alleged abuse spanned two decades.The former gym coach’s alleged abuse spanned two decades.

Six years later, in Sydney’s west, Benson allegedly sexually touched two more victims without consent.

They were allegedly committed between January 2020 and June 2021 in Penrith.

Appearing via video link from prison — as he had earlier been refused bail — Benson said the words “not guilty” as each of the 19 charges were read out.

Police began investigating Benson in 2021 after they were tipped off about a girl allegedly being abused by her gymnastics coach.

Seven girls were allegedly abused by the former coach.Seven girls were allegedly abused by the former coach.

As they began to investigate, more alleged victims came forward.

It then came to light that Benson had been working in gyms despite his working with children check being revoked in 2016.

Benson’s gymnastics career spanned more than two decades and covered NSW and Queensland.

The court heard the charges will be separated into two trials.

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One is estimated to go for five-to-six weeks and hear the Northern Beaches allegations, while a two-week trial will hear the Penrith ones.

The matter will next face court for a readiness hearing on October 23.

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