Marvin Sharp: Indianapolis gymnastics coach found dead in jail

Marvin Sharp : Jailed gymnastics coach found dead in cell from apparent suicide

Marvin Sharp, a gymnastics coach arrested last month on child molestation charges, apparently committed suicide in the Marion County Jail Saturday night.

Deputies discovered the body of the 49-year-old Indianapolis man, who was being held on four counts of child molesting and three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, at 8:17 p.m. Saturday.

Katie Carlson, spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, said Sharp’s death was the result of an apparent suicide, and no foul play is suspected.

Officials have not said how Sharp took his own life.

“A follow-up investigation is being conducted by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Marion County coroner’s office,” Carlson said in a statement.

The criminal investigation into the USA Gymnastics 2010 Coach of the Year began with complaints over his photo shoots of children. The probe led to his arrest on Aug. 24 after accusations that he fondled one of his 14-year-old gymnastics students came to light.

The 14-year-old, who had been a student of Sharp’s for three years, said the inappropriate contact between her and her former coach happened during a number of photo and physical therapy sessions. The student also told police that Sharp conducted photo shoots with other children.

Local and federal investigators found thousands of child pornography images in his home and business as they served search warrants, authorities say. They were working to determine whether any of the images confiscated were produced by Sharp.

A federal complaint said that Sharp had been receiving child pornography since 2005. In addition to his charges in Marion County, Sharp was charged with knowing receipt of child pornography and knowing possession of child pornography by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Sharp was found dead on a night when the rest of the gymnastics community was celebrating the 17th annual National Gymnastics Day, an event sponsored by USA Gymnastics.

The organization released the following statement in response to the news of Sharp’s death:

“USA Gymnastics is aware of the untimely death of Marvin Sharp. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all involved in this tragic set of circumstances.”

According to Sharp’s website, he coached at the national level for more than 25 years and opened Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy in 2001. In 2011, he moved his school from a warehouse in the 5900 block of West 84th Street to its current Georgetown Road location.

Sharp coached Olympians Bridget Sloan and Samantha Peszek, who were on the U.S. team that won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sloan also won national and world all-around titles in 2009 and was fourth on uneven bars at the 2010 World Championships.

In the wake of Sharp’s death, Sloan took to social media and tweeted the word “speechless” alongside a link to a news story.