MEDFORD, Ore, – A longtime gymnastics coach and sports photographer is under arrest, suspected of secretly taking pictures of students while they were changing. Police say it may have occurred during a nine-year period at several gymnastics facilities across Southern Oregon.
Police arrested 54-year-old Jeffrey Bettman on Nov. 2, and he is in the Jackson County Jail on charges of encouraging child sex abuse, and invasion of personal privacy. They say Bettman had scheduled professional photo sessions with students, then photographed the gymnasts changing without their knowledge. The Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force is investigating the case, and said the incidents began as early as 2003, and it may involve as many as 30 victims.
The Task Force said it also found child pornography on Bettman’s computer.
Bettman had worked as a gymnastics coach and photographer for decades in Southern Oregon. He had worked at Southern Oregon Gymnastics Academy in Medford, and recently at Ultimate Sports Gymnastics (U Sports) in Grants Pass. Neither business spoke on camera with NewsWatch 12, but SOGA emphasized that Bettman does not work there, and U Sports said it had placed Bettman on a leave of absence.
Police believe the crimes only occurred during privately scheduled photo sessions with the students and their families. They do not think students who were attending normal classes at the gymnastics facilities. U Sports released a statement saying in part that it was not involved with the negotiations of any of Bettman’s photo shoots, and that they did not occur during normal business hours.
Investigators are asking any families whose children had professional photo sessions with Bettman to come forward with information. They are asked to call the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force at 541-423-1315.
The complete statement from Ultimate Sports Gymnastics is below:
Re: Recent arrest of Jeffrey Bettman Grants Pass, OR – U Sports is a community gymnastics organization dedicated to serving our local area youth by providing both recreational and competitive gymnastics. Our program is dedicated to providing a safe place for children to learn gymnastics with well-trained coaches who believe in promoting self-confidence and personal discipline for our students. U Sports was not aware that Mr. Bettman was under investigation. Furthermore, no suspicious behaviors have ever been reported by staff or parents. No gymnasts within our program have brought forward any complaints in regards to behavior that might have made them feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, it is our understanding, that the charges brought forth upon Mr. Bettman were a result of a private photo shoot contracted between Mr. Bettman and each individual gymnast’s parent. U Sports’ program(s) were never involved in the negotiations of any of Mr. Bettman's photo shoots, and they did not occur during normal operating hours at U Sports. Due to the nature of our business, our adult coaching staff is required to undergo a bi-annual background check per U Sports’ employment policy and must also be cleared through USA Gymnastics. U Sports’ employment policy forbids any one-on-one time with a student, and the punishment for one-on-one time is immediate termination; under no circumstance would U Sports knowingly place a student or staff member at risk in our program and have placed controls to avoid that possibility. U Sports pledges full support of the investigation into the charges against Mr. Bettman. Under the current circumstances, U Sports has also placed Mr. Bettman on an immediate leave of absence for an undetermined length of time. U Sports highly values our community supporters, staff, and gym families. As such, we will continue to maintain privacy for all parties involved throughout the investigation.