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Omaha gym owner convicted of sex assault on rare provision

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha gym owner has been convicted of sexually assaulting a one-time aspiring Olympic powerlifter under a rarely used provision of Nebraska's rape laws.

A judge on Tuesday convicted Douglas Anders, 59, of first-degree sexual assault for allegedly using coercion and deception to have sex with the young woman at his gym several years ago, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The woman, now 24, began attending Anders' gym, Metabolic Engineering and Recovery Center, when she was 15 years old. Prosecutors say that when she was 17, Anders persuaded her that he needed to perform pelvic adjustments that involved him penetrating her with his fingers, and that over time, he coerced her into sex.

After the woman came forward about the abuse in 2018 after disclosing it to a therapist, investigators examined her old phone and found sexually charged text messages that Anders had sent her in 2016 and 2017, prosecutors said. They further corroborated her story through the testimony of friends who said she had described the improper relationship to them at the time it was happening. Another gym member also testified that Anders had suggested that she undergo a pelvic adjustment.

Anders testified at his trial and denied having any sexual contact with his accuser or that he had suggested the other gym member undergo pelvic adjustments.

The age of sexual consent in Nebraska is 16, which is why prosecutors charged Anders with using coercion and deception to sexually assault the woman. Deputy Douglas County Attorney Molly Keane said it was only the second time in her 15 years of prosecuting sex crimes that she had relied on that provision.

Anders' case has similarities to that of Larry Nassar, the disgraced former sports doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics who is in prison for sexually abusing dozens of women and girls under the guise that he was treating their injuries.

Anders faces up to 50 years when he is sentenced in April. He was ordered to remain in jail until his sentencing.

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