This week Federal agents arrested American Ninja Warrior star Drew Dreschel. Charges against Drew range from “manufacture of child pornography” to “travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.” According to TMZ, Dreschel will be held without bail until his trial in New Jersey as a judge found him to be a flight risk and danger to the community.
Drew is well known in the Parkour/Freerunning world in addition to his appearances on NBC’s famous obstacle course competition show. I’ve trained with Drew on a couple of occasions. At the time TMZ broke the story, I made a rather bland social media statement.
Allegations only at the moment. Our justice system says he’s innocent until proven guilty, and the Feds bear the burden of proving this beyond a reasonable doubt in front of a trier of fact.
My statement’s condemnation wasn’t surprising. I’ve debated the weight of the presumption of innocence on this very site. What surprised me was the speed with which those far closer to Drew than I ran to distance themselves from him before he even entered a “not guilty” plea. As for NBC, they officially severed ties with Drew last Wednesday.
Here’s a few points I hope aren’t lost in the cries to hang “The Real Life Ninja” before his day in court.
- Jails have consistently been petri dishes for COVID-19. While the crimes with which Drew is accused are reprehensible, none carry a death sentence. I think his incarceration is a knee-jerk reaction to the charges and bond should be reconsidered.
- While I do not practice in New Jersey, I know criminal trials are sparse in Tennessee at the moment. An appellate court just held last week defendants here have the right to face their accuser in court, not by Zoom. If Drew is not allowed to exercise his right to a speedy trial or to face his accuser, it will be a violation of rights only the principled will mention.
- For those who knew Drew and interacted with him on a regular basis, what compels you to damn a man you’ve known for so long? Is it the nature of the allegations, or did he always strike you as unsavory at some level? Or is it more complicated than that?
- Drew’s life is over, regardless of the case’s outcome. He’ll never participate in “American Ninja Warrior” again and NBC will do their best to scrub him from the competition’s history. There will most likely never be another children’s class at his gym, regardless of who teaches it. It’ll be a cold day in hell before he’s allowed to train in a gym other than his own.He may beat the rap, but this is one ride Dreschel won’t find his way over, under, or through.
- If Drew is found guilty, he’ll most likely be forced to register as a sex offender, making him part of the permanent underclass my mean-ass editor’s murdered countless words on. This would effectively close his gym, costing any who worked there employment.
- It is the job of a trier of fact to proclaim Drew Dreschel’s guilt, not the public’s. While it may be easy to excoriate him over the material the Department of Justice has released at this point, anyone reading this would think differently if they or close family found themselves facing the same allegations.
- Many are calling for an “extra grace period” over current events ranging from the re-opening of schools to how we vote. As our collective society grows more and more divided, the easiest way of extending grace to someone who truly needs it would be for those with whom Drew Dreschel is acquainted to remain silent until his trial’s conclusion.
Adherence to principle is rough in an age when the mob equates silence with complicity. It’s harder still when the mob deems keeping your mouth shut actual violence. Yet when we’re met with consistent cries to “do better” in every aspect of life the easiest way to accomplish that is to take charges such as those Drew Dreschel faces for what they are—charges—and go on about our lives without further comment.
Many of those closest to Drew are some of the most elite athletes on the planet. They’ve conquered physical obstacles few of us will ever meet. Now all of them face the hardest obstacle they’ll likely overcome in their lives: remembering Dreschel is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
What’s truly disheartening is the failure of so many to even approach the challenge.