Crimetracker: Violent sex offender indicted for teaching gymnastics at school and home

POWELL, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Jeffrey Keith used to work as head tumbling coach at a Knoxville gymnastics center now called Premier Athletics.

"He was our head guy to coach athletes in the power tumbling aspect of it. Especially on trampoline - he brought a couple of kids to the world championships," said Phil Savage, Keith's former boss.

Savage said Keith quit in 1997. In 1998, a court in Rhea County convicted him of aggravated sexual battery of a 10-year-old. That conviction made him a violent sex offender.

"When we found out he was a violent sex offender, it blew our mind!" said Savage.

Fast forward to last March, when deputies arrested Keith for teaching gymnastics in the Powell High School cafeteria and out of the basement of his home. He's since moved. His former neighbor said she didn't know he was a sex offender, but did see kids coming and going from his house.

"I didn't know he was doing lessons, but I knew he was helping some kids. And yes, there were kids that came in and out," said Tommye McGinnis, his former neighbor.

School employees are subject to background checks, but a spokesperson for Knox County Schools said the school system didn't organize the lessons, a group of parents did. Still, Jimmy Miller is upset.

"It scares me to death. I mean, I've got a 9-year-old little girl and she's always playing soccer or doing something. She's around a lot of people too, you know? You don't really know - it scares me to death," said Miller.

Now a grand jury has indicted Keith for sexual exploitation of a minor, three violations of the sex offender registry law by failing to tell police he was teaching gymnastics and had stepped foot inside a school, and five counts of perjury for making false statements on paper.

"It's just sad for us neighbors - the person we knew. It makes us sad that all of this has come to pass," said McGinnis.

Investigators said Keith had more than a hundred pornographic pictures of children.

Keith's bond was set at $100,000. His court date is February 26.


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