HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE, Ind. – Local Olympic bronze-medal winner Nick Goepper was charged Friday after deputies said he vandalized multiple vehicles in Indiana.
Goepper’s attorneys said the sports star was suffering from an anxiety attack and depression when he threw rocks at cars on Alpine Drive near the Hidden Valley Lake Sports Complex on Aug. 8. The vandalism caused $8,243.76 worth of damage, deputies said.
Dearborn County authorities said their investigation into the damaged vehicles had no suspects until the 20-year-old freeskier and his family “came forward to accept responsibility for his actions.”
Goepper released the following statement Friday night:
"I apologize to my family, fans, sponsors and fellow athletes for my actions. Through this experience I have learned more about myself, including my responsibility as a role model athlete. I'm deeply appreciative of the support provided by those around me. I have had the opportunity to apologize to those affected by my actions in person, but please allow me this opportunity to apologize publicly to those affected by my actions. I assure you that what I did was completely out of character and will not happen again. Again, I am truly sorry for what I have done."
Prosecuting attorney F. Aaron Neganard said, “Goepper has also apologized to the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department and has personally apologized to the victims."
Goepper was charged with one count of criminal mischief. A police report lists eight victims of vandalism in Goepper’s hometown of Hidden Valley Lake, Ind.
Dearborn County deputy Jack D. Stevens said the athlete threw rocks at the vehicles in an effort to “intentionally deface property.”
Stevens was called to investigate reports of vehicle damage just after 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 8 when he said he spotted a blue Chevrolet truck in a driveway on Alpine Drive with a man dressed in all black standing nearby.
The deputy said the man, later identified as Goepper, then ran into the woods nearby, leading to a chase.
Stevens said he shouted, "Stop, sheriff's office" three times, but Goepper continued to run and escaped custody. A pile of rocks sat along the roadway nearby, he said.
Neganard said lawyers brought all the vandalism victims into an office Friday morning without telling them anything. He said Goepper then arrived, apologized and handed checks to each of them, covering the entire cost of the damage.
“If Nick Goepper had not cooperated, these victims would not have been made whole and the crime would be unsolved,” Neganard said. "The fact that he came forward speaks to the tremendous character of Nick Goepper and his family."
Jeremy Forster, director of snowboarding and freeskiing for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), gave Goepper credit for coming forward to accept responsibility for his actions, seeking personal support and apologizing to those affected. However, he also said he expected more from him.
"Appropriate conduct is a responsibility of all USSA athletes and something we take seriously as an organization," he said. "We have worked closely with Nick and his family to provide him support and also to educate him on the impact his actions have on his sport, his organization and himself."
Goepper enrolled at Windells Academy in Mt Hood, Oregon at age 15 and later took the gold medal at the 2013 Winter X Games slopestyle. He secured a spot on the Olympic team on Dec. 21, 2013 with his second-place finish at the U.S. Grand Prix slopestyle skiing contest at Copper Mountain.
At 19, Goepper won a bronze medal in slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.