EVERETT — A volunteer gymnastics coach accused of secretly recording video in the students’ bathroom was a highly involved member of the academy.
Patrick Kunz, 44, had volunteered for Leading Edge Gymnastics Academy in Everett for five years, putting in work “way beyond what is expected,” according to a police report. In addition to helping with classes in the evenings, he taught private lessons on weekends and was the go-to guy for the academy’s IT and security video systems. He was described as a “great coach and extremely helpful.” He also taught at a dance studio.
The Everett man was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on Jan. 29 for possessing child pornography and two counts of first-degree voyeurism, then released after posting $10,000 bail.
A statement from the academy explained Kunz was immediately banned from the premises as soon as he was identified as a suspect.
A 10-year-old girl first noticed a suspicious box in a bathroom at the academy on Dec. 9. That box contained a cellphone, according to police reports.
Upon learning of the device, the head coach closed off the bathroom and went to Kunz, to see if he could look through security video footage. They went to the bathroom together, where the head coach showed him the box. The head coach then walked off to the video surveillance room, thinking Kunz was following right behind her.
But he didn’t follow. He reportedly lingered in the bathroom. The head coach said about 30 seconds passed before she went back. Kunz then quickly left the bathroom, brushing by her without saying a word.
When police arrived, the box reportedly had been moved, and the device inside was missing.
In security video, Kunz reportedly can be seen leaving the bathroom and going through his phone. He continued to be distracted by his phone as he coached students. Coaches rarely have their phone out during class, witnesses reported.
“The assumption is that he is deleting any incriminating data,” an Everett detective wrote.
Kunz denied that he tampered with the evidence and offered to let police look through his phone, according to the police report.
Police reportedly found two videos on his phone. One was over an hour long. It had a dark screen. The audio appeared to come from a bathroom, as the fan would turn on intermittently, the detective wrote.
The other video allegedly depicted child porn.
Both appeared to be in the process of being deleted.
It was the same type of phone as another one found at the academy in October 2019. A volunteer was helping out with a plumbing issue when he discovered it wedged under a bathroom sink. The volunteer reported the phone was warm to the touch and actively recording.
He brought the phone to the front desk, where academy leaders called police. While it was at the front desk, Kunz reportedly passed by and remarked that he had a similar one that had gone missing. A few days later he mentioned he found his phone, according to police reports.
At the time, he wasn’t identified as a suspect, and detectives couldn’t get past the lock screen. The phone was taken into evidence, in case it could be of use in a future case.
Both phones were reportedly issued by Kunz’s company, where he was a project manager. The phone reportedly was never returned to the company.
Police also got a judge’s permission to search Kunz’s work-issued laptop computer. According to the police report, the computer’s operating system was uninstalled and re-installed on Oct. 16, 2019, a day after the first phone was found.
Another volunteer coach reported that Kunz often used the hallway bathroom before leaving every night, instead of the staff bathroom. And according to one parent’s daughters, Kunz would regularly disappear into the bathroom at the beginning of their lesson.
In emails to The Daily Herald, some students’ parents expressed concern that they weren’t notified of the 2019 incident.
The academy defended itself in a statement, saying head coach Casey Rigby “worked tirelessly” with local law enforcement, putting “her career, integrity, and safety on the line in order to do what is right for the children she works with.”
The statement credits her for pursuing the allegations.
“The lies being spread that there was some sort of cover-up or that any member of the LEGA establishment knew about his actions are blatantly false,” the statement says. “Please join us in focusing your anger, irritation, and frustration at the heinous acts perpetrated by the offender. Our children, athletes, staff, coaches, and owners are all victims in this process.”