Ex-gymnastics coach accused of sex crimes sentenced to 23 years in prison

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Nolan Knuckles mugshot (Source: MCSO) Nolan Knuckles mugshot (Source: MCSO)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A former Mesa gymnastics coach has been sentenced 23 years in prison and lifetime probation after pleading guilty to sex crimes.

As part of a plea agreement, Nolan Knuckles had pleaded guilty to charges of sexual conduct and attempted sexual conduct with a minor.

He was arrested in the case in March 2016.

[RELATED: Mesa gymnastics coach accused of having sexual relationship with teen]

According to police, Nolan Craig Knuckles performed sex acts on a student starting when the boy was 13 years old. The boy told police the coach gave him marijuana before the sex on two occasions. 

Knuckles, 30, told police he coached the boy for about four years at Diamondback Gymnastics in Mesa but investigators say none of the encounters happened at the gym.

Gym staff sent a letter to parents, explaining that one of their coaches was under investigation and thanking families for their support “during this confusing and stressful time.”

"The coach involved completed the screening and background check process with no issues, and always conducted himself professionally when at or representing Diamondback Gymnastics while he was a member of our staff,” the letter states. 

The gym said it terminated Knuckles after learning of the police investigation.

Knuckles will now have to register as a sex offender and pay full restitution to his victim.

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