Ex-gymnastics coach Brubaker found not guilty
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 6:03AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 13, 2019 1:54PM EST
SARNIA, Ont. -- A former high-ranking gymnastics coach was acquitted of sexual assault and sexual exploitation Wednesday after the judge presiding over his trial found serious issues with the police investigation into his case.
Dave Brubaker, the former head coach of the women's national team, was accused of sexually assaulting a young gymnast years ago and had vehemently denied the allegations against him.
The trial heard that the sole officer investigating the coach was related to the complainant and made her the godmother of his newborn child during the course of the probe. Court also heard that the officer shared details of Brubaker's police interview with the woman, who cannot be identified.
Justice Deborah Austin said the Crown's case was damaged by the relationship between the complainant and the officer.
"I don't criticize him for being a good friend ... I do criticize the decision to also at the same time take on the role of sole investigating officer in the case resulting in some questions about the handling of the case," she said. "These things do affect the reliability of the Crown's case. These issues cannot be ignored."
Brubaker's supporters applauded after Austin delivered her decision.
At the beginning of the trial in October, the complainant, who is now in her 30s testified that Brubaker would kiss her on the lips to say hello and goodbye starting when she was 12 years old.
She also said he touched her inappropriately during sports massages and spooned her in bed while taking naps before practice -- allegations Brubaker strongly denied.
He told the court that while he did kiss the complainant on the lips, it was meant as a fatherly gesture and not a sexual one.
He also said he never took naps with the young woman, and that the massages he gave her were necessary to alleviate the aches, pains and injury that come with being a gymnast at an advanced level.
Brubaker's lawyer, Patrick Ducharme, argued that the young woman was bitter because she didn't make it to the Olympics, unlike some others Brubaker coached.
Upon Brubaker's arrest in December 2017, he was placed on administrative leave by Gymnastics Canada.
In a video of his police interview, the coach is seen writing a letter of apology to the complainant, another young gymnast he used to coach, and his wife.
The defence had argued that the video should not be allowed in evidence given the relationship between the officer and the complainant. Ducharme suggested that the officer fed the complainant allegations to bring against Brubaker.
The judge decided the video was admissible, but said she would be cautious when considering it as evidence.