'We feel violated': Parents distraught after Racine County gymnastics coach arrested for child porn

Investigators are searching for more potential victims after a local gymnastics coach was accused of recording children in a bathroom at his gym.

Jim Kivisto has been working as a gymnastics coach throughout southeast Wisconsin for more than 30 years. He was taken to jail Tuesday after Racine County Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at Kivisto’s business, Wind Lake Gymnastics Center, which he’s owned for the past 11 years.

He has been in direct contact with dozens of children, from toddlers to teenagers, pretty much every day for years. 

“The kids all loved him,” said one parent who wanted to remain anonymous. “None of us can believe this.”

Investigators say a parent found a hidden camera in the bathroom at Wind Lake Gymnastics Center and reported it.  Detectives found more cameras and child porn on computers inside.

“We feel violated,” the parent says. “I am so angry. My children loved coming here. They loved Jim. It’s just very disappointing. We feel very hurt.”

Through word of mouth, concerned parents and former gymnasts say Kivisto had previous coaching roles at gyms in Franklin, Burlington and Waterford. The Racine County Sheriff confirms he’s coached gymnastics in both Racine and Milwaukee counties since 1987.

“Was it our children on his computer?” the parents said.  “Was there more on his computer? Was he distributing the images or video? We are waiting for more details. It’s really terrible and scary. These are kids.”

The Racine County Sheriff will provide an update with more details on the investigation Thursday at noon. 

According to Wind Lake Gymnastic Center’s website, it’s a “USA Gymnastics” member club and must undergo safety checks, along with coach background checks. TODAY'S TMJ4 has a call in to “USA Gymnastics,” to find out if that information is accurate, but hasn’t heard back. 

“USA Gymnastics” is already under intense scrutiny over team doctor and convicted serial child molester, Larry Nassar. 

TODAY'S TMJ4 also spoke with the mother who first found out that Kivisto was taken into police custody.  She arrived at Wind Lake Gymnastics Center to drop off her young daughter for gymnastics Tuesday. She noticed the young woman who helps Kivisto with some gymnastics classes, was visibly upset. 

“She told me it looked like the place had been broken into, and said she couldn’t get a hold of Jim,” said the mother, who also wanted to remain anonymous. “We called 911, and that’s when we found out the place had been searched by sheriff’s deputies, and Kivisto was in jail. They gave us a number to share with other parents. The young woman was too upset to write it down, so I wrote it, and posted a note for other parents on the door of the gymnastics center.”

The sign, which is still on the door, reads  “JIM WAS ARRESTED ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES. CAMERAS IN BATHROOM. CALL DETECTIVE 262-636-3990.”

“I felt like everyone deserved to know,” the mother said. “My biggest fear is that he shared any of the recordings or pictures on the internet, with a bigger population of pedophiles. I just keep thinking, I helped my daughter change in the bathroom where hidden cameras were found. And I let her go in there to go to the bathroom alone. She’s five-years-old. I knew Jim. I sat through my daughter’s gymnastics classes and watched. This is a nightmare.”

As far as parents know, Kivisto does not have a wife or kids and may live in the same building as the gymnastics center. Some parents remember him saying that he’s also a custom cabinet maker, and has been doing gymnastics since high school. 

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