KENNER, LA (WVUE) - A gymnastics coach, with access to some of the biggest dance studios in Jefferson Parish, has been arrested on suspicion of distributing child pornography on the internet and recording a nude 9-year-old girl on video.
Brian Townsend, 43, 4000 block of California Avenue in Kenner, was taken into custody Thursday by Kenner police and the FBI.
Townsend's employers have been notified of his arrest.
He was charged with six counts of pornography involving juveniles, production of pornography involving juveniles, and 13 counts of video voyeurism.
"What he does, he secretly records a child undressing and changing clothes, you can see that child, who we were able to locate, that child is nine-years-old, completely nude on this video, there's 13 videos of this girl," Lt. Brian McGregor, with Kenner Police Department, said.
Friday, FOX 8 spoke with a woman who is a family friend of that little girl, but won't be identified to protect the 9-year old.
"What they said, he only did it here once, which greatly disturbs me," the woman said.
She said Townsend lives nearby her home, where the little girl would visit often, spending time with Townsend regularly.
"He didn't really treat her different, when she was outside doing her little gymnastics things like that he was hard on her, 'Come on do it again, you can do this, don't say can't, there's no such thing as can't,' She called him coach," the woman said, as she mimicked how Townsend would treat the girl.
Townsend told police he is employed by:
Debby Dillehay Dance Studio, 3745 Florida Avenue, Kenner.
Fusion Performing Arts Center, 8814 Veterans Boulevard, Metairie.
Rhonda Edmunson School of Dance, 5050 W. Esplanade Avenue, Metairie.
Helena Hosch School of Dance, 4631 W. Napoleon Avenue, Suite 1A, Metairie.
Kenner police said they received a tip from Louisiana State Police based in Shreveport that Townsend was committing the alleged crimes.
Officers performed an on-scene investigation of one laptop, three compact discs, a cell phone, two external storage devices. They found video of girls performing sex acts. Two thumb drives revealed 13 videos Townsend secretly recorded of the 9-year-old girl, according to police.
Investigators said Townsend activated the video camera on his phone and hid the camera in a changing room. The video showed the girl changing clothes and completely nude, officers said. After the girl left the room, Townsend retrieved the camera.
"I would have never thought he would do that, obviously, evidence proves different but if you met the man you never would've thought. Children were his life," the woman said.
Detectives interviewed Townsend and they said he admitted to downloading child pornography several times. He also said he is not sexually attracted to kids, but could not say why he allegedly downloaded the illegal images.
Townsend has been a children's coach for 30 years. He said he never inappropriately touched a child during that time.
Townsend remains in custody, no bond has been set and more charges could be filed.
Kenner police Chief Michael Glaser urges anyone who believes their child may have been improperly photographed, videoed, or has information concerning Townsend to call Detective Jessica Zuppardo at (504) 712-2410.