A gold medalist in sledding at the 2002 Winter Olympics has been charged with sexually abusing a child in Utah, authorities said.
James “Jimmy” Shea made his first appearance in court on Monday on a weighing of serious sexual abuse of a child and on two charges of sexual abuse. The incidents happened in 2020, court documents show.
Shea’s lawyer, Rudy Bautista, said on Tuesday that the allegations were the result of a family dispute and a misunderstanding about what his client claimed was a loving and tender touch.
Shea, 52, plans to plead not guilty to charges that should be dropped, Bautista said.
The Associated Press did not identify the alleged victim’s relationship with Shea to protect the child’s identity. In general, the AP does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual violence.
Shea won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Skeleton Competition and is a third-generation Olympian.
The skeleton includes athletes racing upside down on the ice at about 80 miles per hour on a sled that looks like a large lunch tray.