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Accuser says Boerne gymnastics coach molested her in 1983

Mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against Mike Spiller span decades and cross borders. Boerne police jailed the 74-year-old for indecency with a child.

SAN ANTONIO — At least five people have so far accused Boerne gymnastics instructor Mike Spiller of sexual misconduct.

The allegations span decades and cross borders, prompting a criminal investigation involving Boerne and Houston police. Spiller worked with thousands of children over nearly five decades coaching gymnastics in Texas, New Mexico, California, Hawaii, Europe and elsewhere.

So far, only one accuser, Anne Whitney, has spoken publicly about her allegations. 

'It was too big to deal with'

Whitney told KENS 5 she joined Spiller's gymnastics team in 1983. Her team often held sleepovers on the gym floor, similar to a youth group lock-in. 

During one such party, she claims Spiller invited her into a sort of tent.

"Mike started by putting his arm around me and then, kind of, massaging," she said. "Eventually, that massage led to a point where his hand was inside my underwear."

Whitney was 10 years old. 

She says she didn't fully understand what happened for a few years, but almost immediately told close friends about the incident. She did not tell her parents for some time, worried they might be disappointed. 

"I knew it wasn't my fault exactly, but I did feel as though I had been stupid to end up in that situation," she said. "I did not choose the people to talk to who might've have the greatest immediate effect on catching him or prosecuting."

When she was 14, Whitney told a psychologist she'd been molested, according to her interview with the Houston Chronicle. 

She says she chose not to think about the encounter. Her grades suffered and she withdrew from family, she said.  

"Now I see that, in truth, it was too big to deal with," she said. "I needed to feel that the grownups were good. When you encounter a grownup who is not on your side and you can't trust, it is scary... like, 'Who can you trust?' In my case, I just learned not to trust myself."

Whitney says she's fortunate she found resources that helped her confront those feelings.

Still instructing, years later

Nearly 40 years later, Whitney says she stumbled upon one of Spiller's social media pages. Later, she looked up her former coach and found he still worked with children in Boerne. 

"I was astonished by that," she said. "I thought, 'Surely someone has done something.' After all, I told."

Unsure whether any of the adults she told about her experience filed a report, Whitney set out to make a formal complaint. Eventually, she reported the coach to SafeSport, USA Gymnastics' watchdog organization. 

Whitney, now a professor at Penn State, guessed there would be other accusers. 

"I thought I was just doing it to be on the record; just so I can sleep knowing I reported," she said. "But the family of at least one current young girl called that same week." 

Boerne police say they've discovered allegations against Spiller which date back to 1976. At least one child accused Spiller of sexual misconduct last April. 

Boerne police arrested Spiller for indecency with a child, stemming from an alleged incident in 2001 or 2002. A Boerne woman claims Spiller exposed himself to her using a bus's rearview mirror while he was driving summer camp attendees from their overnight lodging to the Boerne Gymnastic Center.

Whitney encouraged other accusers to be patient with the reporting process. She's launched a sort of crusade, trying to identify other potential victims. 

"If every person think that they're the only one and we don't report, then you end up with nothing ever happening," she said. "It took two of us from two different times who didn't know each other" to prompt SafeSport's investigation. 

"I feel relieved and, frankly, a little proud that he is not currently – right now – starting in on another kid," she said. "I also feel sad that there are so many of us and that more and more will likely come to light now." 

Potential victims in the San Antonio area should call 830-249-8645 or email jvela@boerne-tx.gov and cwalk@boerne-tx.gov. Potential victims in Houston can call John Colburn at 713-830-3265. 


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