A former trainer at a Life Time Fitness club in the Chicago suburb of Warrenville, IL, has been released after he was arrested on sexual abuse charges.
Robert Theodore, 60, was arrested Tuesday, multiple Chicago media outlets reported. According to a press release from DuPage County (IL) State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, Theodore is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a minor boy whom he had been training in track and field.
The three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse that Theodore faces are class 2 felonies punishable by up to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. A judge set Theodore’s bond at $250,000. Theodore posted the required $25,000 to secure his release Wednesday and was ordered to submit to GPS monitoring. He also cannot have contact with the alleged victim or anyone under the age of 18.
Berlin alleges that Theodore had inappropriate contact with the alleged victim on several occasions beginning when the boy was 16 years old. Some of the alleged abuse occurred at the Life Time Fitness club where Theodore trained the boy. Theodore also allegedly bought expensive gifts for the boy, including a specialized bicycle, clothing and an iTouch.
“The allegations against Mr. Theodore are sickening,” Berlin said in a statement. “The relationship between an athlete and their trainer is built on trust and a desire to bring out the best in the athlete. It is alleged that through his actions, Mr. Theodore cared nothing about his young victim and destroyed the trust his victim had placed in him to satisfy his own despicable desires.”
The arrest on Tuesday resulted after a seven-month investigation that began when the parents of another boy approached authorities about possible inappropriate conduct, the Daily Herald newspaper reported.
The Daily Herald reports that Theodore, a former track coach at Lisle (IL) High School, gave several young athletes attention, buying them expensive gifts and inviting them to sleepovers at his homes in Woodridge, IL, and in Colorado.
DuPage County prosecutor Ann Celine O’Hallaren told the Daily Herald that Theodore bought the alleged victim, now 20, gifts worth more than $1,000 and had the boy give him massages. O’Hallaren also accuses Theodore of abusing the alleged victim while in a hot tub at the Life Time Fitness center and exposing himself to the alleged victim during a trip to his Colorado home. Theodore took athletes to Colorado for altitude training, O’Hallaren said.
Local police got a wiretapping warrant to listen in on phone calls between Theodore and the alleged victim, the newspaper reported. In two calls, O’Hallaren told the newspaper, Theodore confessed he was “sexually attracted” to the alleged victim and admitted having sexual relationships with him and other boys. Police seized a computer from Theodore’s home and are looking for pornography, O’Hallaren added.
Theodore had been on the coaching staff at Life Time Fitness since 2001, the Daily Herald reported, citing a staff bio that described him as a “highly competitive runner, coach and official at all levels.” The bio has since been taken down.
Theodore had a prior conviction, the Daily Herald reported. He pleaded guilty in a 1986 case to the attempted molestation of a 12-year-old boy he mentored through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Scottsdale, AZ, O’Hallaren told the newspaper. Theodore failed to disclose that conviction, she added, after he moved to Illinois in 1999 and took a job as track coach at Lisle High School. The Daily Herald reported that the school later fired Theodore after complaints about his interaction with students, which led officials to look deeper into his background.
Jason Thunstrom, vice president of public relations and corporate communications for Life Time Fitness, Chanhassen, MN, said in a statement to Club Industry that while the company does not comment on matters relating to human resources, Thunstrom did confirm that Theodore is “no longer affiliated with Life Time.”
“It goes without saying that we find these allegations to be startling and, as you should expect, the matter is being taken very seriously among the leadership at the club and our corporate office,” Thunstrom said in the statement. “Upon being alerted to these allegations, we have focused immediately on supporting the Warrenville authorities with their investigation. At the same time, we remain confident in our long-held commitment and track record of providing members with safe, fun, family-oriented experiences and environments, not the least of which involves our programs and services for children.”
Theodore’s next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 15. His attorney, Tim Martin, told the Daily Herald that Theodore is innocent.
“He’s been an outstanding member of the community for over 40 years, and he is expecting to be fully exonerated from all charges relating to these alleged incidents,” Martin told the newspaper.
Chicago’s ABC 7 News reported that Life Time’s kids triathlon on Sunday in Warrenville will go on as scheduled.
Life Time Fitness faces lawsuits in another sexual abuse case involving a former employee of a club in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, TN. The alleged incidents involving three young girls took place in the summer of 2011.
News of the Illinois allegations is one of two concerns for Life Time Fitness this week. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old man collapsed at a Detroit-area Life Time club and later died at a local hospital.