A 31-year-old instructor at Earth Treks Climbing Center in Columbia was arrested Monday, June 27, for sexually abusing a 14-year-old female member of the gym's competitive climbing team.
Michael J. Lyons, of Rockville, is accused of having sex with the girl at the Columbia location between April and June of this year, according to statements the girl made to Howard County police. During this time, Lyons was the head coach of the girls rock-climbing team..
When questioned by police on June 27, Lyons voluntarily told police that he had sexual intercourse with the girl, according to charging documents.
Earth Treks Chief Operating Officer Chris Jenkins said in a statement that the company has terminated Lyons and is cooperating fully with police. He said that police have visited the company's other locations in Timonium and Rockville as a part of their continuing investigation into Lyons.
"At Earth Treks, our top priority is providing a safe environment for all members of our community," Jenkins said in a statement.
In an interview, Jenkins declined to comment on whether a lack of procedure or oversight at Earth Treks contributed to the reported abuse.
Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said that Earth Treks is not being investigated by police.
According to the girl's statements to police, Lyons began to make sexually charged statements to her earlier this year. Sometimes, the girl told police, Lyons would ask her "when she would take care of him" sexually or "when it was his turn."
Then, according to her statements to police, starting in April, Lyons would have the girl meet him in an office area of the climbing facility, located in the Gateway Business Park. On June 18, during an overnight event, Lyons allegedly took the girl into a storage closet and had sex with her, according to charging documents.
"The victim denied any use of force by Lyons, but stated that Lyons was well aware of her age," the charging documents state.
Police were informed of the alleged abuse by the teen's mother on June 24, and later that day they interviewed the girl. Lyons was arrested at the Earth Treks facility in Timonium three days later, according to charging documents.
After an investigation, police charged Lyons with sexually abusing a minor, sexual solicitation of a minor, multiple sex offenses and second-degree assault. He currently is being held at the Howard County Detention Center on $100,000 bond.
According to police, Lyons is an instructor at other Earth Treks locations, as well as with the U.S. National Climbing Team and the USA Climbing organization. Police say it is possible Lyons may have assaulted other underage females.
"Because he, as a coach, has worked with so many young people we are looking into the possibility that there could be other victims," Llewellyn said.
Police are asking anyone with information to call 410-313-3200.