A Savannah Olympic trainer is in the Chatham County jail tonight. The grand jury indicted Michael Popson for molesting a child. We spoke with Michael Cohen, another Olympic trainer, who knows Popson well. He has worked with Popson for more than eight years training the Olympic athletes of Team Savannah, and the news came as a huge shock.
Popson is the man who helped weightlifters like Olympic medalist Cheryl Haworth reach their dreams. "She's been tough," he told us in a 2004 interview. "She's that type of one-in-a-million athlete."
Now, instead of traveling the world with the world's finest athletes, he's awaiting trial on charges of aggravated child molestation and statutory rape.
Fellow Olympic trainer Cohen told us, "I'm concerned. Mike Popson is a good friend of mine. I'm sorry to read something like this happened to him."
Cohen has worked with Popson, training athletes, since the late '90s.
"He's one of the best, obviously," Cohen said. "He was in Sydney for the Olympics in 2000, as one of the US trainers. He worked extensively with the US Olympic Federation. He's worked with numerous groups in the City of Savannah: football, basketball, baseball, swimming, tae kwon do. The list goes on and on and on.
"I know that Mike Popson is a good man," he went on. "This obviously is something that's a disaster to his life. Regardless of the outcome, it's a disaster."
Of course it's our policy not to reveal the victim's identity, especially since the victim was a minor at the time these incidents supposedly took place. Popson is facing some very serious charges, but at this point he has not been convicted.
He'll be in court next month. We'll continue to follow this story and bring you the latest.