Superior gymnastics coach found competent to face charges
State and federal cases alleging child sexual abuse and pornography will resume.
DULUTH — A former Superior gymnastics coach accused of sexually abusing several minors and possessing child pornography has been found competent to proceed in court.
George Francis Deppa, 49, did not contest the results of a psychological evaluation that determined he was capable of understanding the charges and participating in his own defense.
The evaluation, ordered by a federal judge in November after a defense attorney raised concerns about his mental health, had stalled six cases filed against Deppa in three jurisdictions.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois indicated Wednesday that the evaluation did identify concerns regarding depression.
"The court does not take issue with that diagnosis, but those mental health needs do not equate to incompetence to stand trial," Brisbois said, indicating Deppa has been able to clearly communicate with his attorney and assist in the litigation.
Deppa was first charged in Wisconsin in May 2021 with two counts of sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age and one count of exposing genitals. He is accused of sexually touching two teenage students and trying to "make out" with them while they were out for rides in his boat and during sleepovers at his Superior home, according to a criminal complaint.
A third count of sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age was filed roughly two and a half weeks later. It alleges that Deppa, a coach at Twin Ports Gymnastics, sexually touched a third student during a private coaching session. The victim reported the incident to her parents after seeing news coverage of Deppa's arrest for sexual assault.
In St. Louis County, Deppa is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count each of second- and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Deppa is accused of subjecting one Minnesota victim to "extreme inhumane conditions," routinely drugging the girl before molesting or raping her from the approximate ages of 8-16. The victim, according to a criminal complaint, said the number of abusive instances was "too high to count."
Court documents state that two other girls also came forward to tell authorities that Deppa provided them with pills before touching their genital areas. One was 13 or 14 at the time and the other was 17, according to the criminal complaints.
The federal indictment was levied in May 2022, charging Deppa with three counts of production of child pornography. In that case, authorities indicated they recovered three images of Deppa with a nude 15-year-old victim.
Deppa, who has been held at the Douglas County Jail without bail, was transferred in December to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington, for a period of psychological evaluation. A report was provided to the attorneys and the court in March, but it was filed under seal due to its sensitive contents.
Defense attorney Kurt Glaser opted against calling the evaluator for testimony at a contested hearing Wednesday. The burden would have been on the defense to prove that Deppa was not competent to proceed.
No further hearings were scheduled in federal court, as Glaser requested time to engage in plea negotiations. Deppa is scheduled to face his first jury trial in Douglas County on Aug. 14.