December 9, 2019
Alicia Fabbre
Chicago Tribune

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing a former Channahon gymnastics coach and Olympian accused of years of abuse of his students and is asking a federal judge to revoke his citizenship.

Jose Vilchis, 69, who became a naturalized citizen in 1997, is in the Will County Adult Detention Facility awaiting trial on charges that he sexually assaulted and abused a girl he trained at the I&M Gymnastics Academy in Channahon in late 2012 or 2013.

The DOJ lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Vilchis, who is from Mexico, lied on his application for citizenship about other incidents of alleged abuse. In its complaint, the DOJ alleges that beginning as early as 1985, Vilchis sexually assaulted at least three minor girls he coached and that he concealed those activities from immigration authorities. The lawsuit contends that some of the victims were as young as 12 years old.

According to the complaint, Vilchis answered “no” to questions on his citizenship application asking if he had ever “knowingly committed any crime for which you have not been arrested” and if he had ever committed or been convicted “of a crime involving moral turpitude?”

The complaint does not allege that Vilchis was ever arrested or convicted in relation to the alleged abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. It does, however, point to three instances where he is alleged to have sexually abused three minor female students he coached in the Chicago area prior to his naturalization.

The lawsuit, which is not based on the current criminal charges Vilchis faces in Will County, contends that because Vilchis concealed his “criminal conduct” from the 1980s and 1990s, he did not lawfully obtain his citizenship.

He became a permanent resident of the U.S. in 1991 and a naturalized citizen in 1997, according to a news release.

“Vilchis fraudulently gained U.S citizenship by lying about the horrific, ongoing crimes he was committing against innocent children,” acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence said in th news release.

According to the complaint, Vilchis, who competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics for Mexico, coached at various facilities in the Chicago area including at the Beverly Gymnastics Center in Chicago, the American Academy of Gymnastics in Wheeling and other gyms.

Vilchis, who was arrested in 2018 on the charges stemming from the Channahon facility, is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 16 in Will County. In that case, Vilchis faces 18 counts criminal sexual abuse and assault of a minor. According to prosecutors, the girl was between the ages of 13 and 17 when the abuse occurred.

An attorney representing Vilchis did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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