Gymnastics coach charged with sexually abusing children with special needs

Rob Elgas Image
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Gymnastics coach behind bars
A suburban gymnastics coach has been charged with sexually abusing two children with special needs.

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban gymnastics coach has been charged with sexually abusing two children with special needs.

Patricia Hermann, 48, of Schaumburg, Ill., is charged with three counts of sexual battery against a minor and one count of aggravated sexual battery in Cobb County, Georgia.

On Monday night, ABC7 spoke to the mother of one of the two alleged victims. The victim's mother was too upset to speak on camera. Her daughter, she says, went on a gymnastics trip to Georgia and came back extremely upset.

Hermann's neighbors said they can't comprehend the allegations she's facing.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it. I am 100 percent behind her back," said Anna Mieczkowski, a neighbor. "She's helping with everything. I can call her all the time whenever I need something."

Mieczkowski's daughter has Down syndrome. She credits Hermann with helping her learn how to swim.

"My daughter - she is almost 5 - she can put her head down underwater, thanks to her. She was teaching her," Mieczkowski said.

Hermann has coached and worked with children with Down syndrome for decades. She would hold practice in Hanover Park, but also at other places throughout the suburbs.

Seven hundred miles away in Cobb County, Ga., prosecutors believe Hermann committed a disturbing assault on two athletes she was traveling with for a gymnastics tournament last spring.

Investigators said Hermann was staying at a hotel northwest of Atlanta when she allegedly fondled two girls.

"Apparently when they returned home they independently talked with their parents and at some point while they were there at the hotel, both girls mentioned to their parents that they had been sexually assaulted," said Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce.

It's surprising news in her quiet Schaumburg neighborhood, where residents say several special needs families live.

"Yes, it's a surprise to everyone in the neighborhood, I think it's hard to believe," said Scott McIlvain, a neighbor.

Hermann was booked by Cook County authorities. She will likely be extradited to Georgia.