Former GJ gymnastics coach arrested for child sex assault

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BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- A gymnastics coach who used to work in Grand Junction is charged with sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

Robert Edward Barke will be arraigned on June 20 in Broomfield County, Colorado after prosecutors allege he sexually assaulted two boys -- who were 12 and 14 -- between 2004 and 2007. He was working as a gymnastics coach in Broomfield at the time.

According to the Associated Press, Barke is free on a $100,000 bond, and he couldn't be reached for comment because his phone number is unlisted. He was arrested on March 27 in Houston, Texas, where he currently lives.

But Barke's Colorado gymnastics career goes back farther than 2004.

When he was 18, he was hired as a coach at KidzPlex in Grand Junction from about 2000 to 2001, according to KidzPlex President Brian Bensley.

Bensley says Barke was a Mesa State College student who taught gymnastics roughly three days a week.

After doing some summer camps, Barke was hired at a bigger gym in the Denver area.

According to Bensley, KidzPlex officials never had a problem with Barke.

"We have our policies in place to make sure [our employees] keep their noses clean," said Bensley.

Those policies include making sure teachers are never allowed to be alone with one student, and if an employee breaks the rules, they are dismissed.

Bensley said he is worried that Barke's brief association will make KidzPlex parents concerned. While talking with KKCO 11 News, he reinforced that because his gym is also a child care center, they perform more thorough background checks than most gymnastics centers.

"We only try to do good for the kids," said Bensley. "I've had over 1,000 employees, and one bad apple can hurt a whole bunch."

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