A renowned ex-coach in Canadian pairs skating was found guilty Wednesday of sexual assault and gross indecency dating back nearly 40 years.
Richard Gauthier was on trial on three charges in connection with crimes he committed in the 1980s involving a teenage male skater whom he trained.
Gauthier, 61, was found guilty on two charges, in a ruling rendered in Montreal by Quebec court Judge Josee Belanger. He was acquitted of a third count of indecent assault against the victim, whose identity is covered by a publication ban.
“The evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused’s conduct caused the plaintiff serious harm,” the judge wrote in a 49-page ruling.
The victim was 14 at the time of the incidents while Gauthier was in his 20s. Gauthier coached him for about six years, until the victim turned 18.
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Gauthier was accused of having bathed naked with the victim, took showers with him and spooned naked with him in a bed at the accused’s residence.
“These are sexual gestures made by the accused towards the athlete he was training, whom the latter loved, and towards whom he had great admiration,” Belanger ruled. “As the complainant’s testimony pointed out, due to the behavior of the accused, he suffered serious psychological harm. This prejudice is high.”
The judge did not believe the version of events of Gauthier, who was charged in 2020.
“Not only is the accused not credible, but his testimony is also unreliable. It contains certain additions, flagrant contradictions, and evolves over the questions asked in cross-examination,” the judge ruled.
Prosecutor Amelie Rivard told reporters she was hopeful the verdict will send a message to survivors that time does not erase criminal actions. She said she hoped the ruling encourages victims of sexual assault to come forward.
The case will return to court next month.
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Gauthier spent more than three decades training world class pairs skaters. He was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a coach in 2015.
Gauthier brought together Edmonton skating pair Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, who would go on to win gold at the 2001 ISU World Championships and 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
According to Skate Canada, Gauthier helped mentor two-time defending world pair champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
“At his world-renowned pair skating school in Saint-Leonard, Que., Gauthier also trains several world-ranked pair teams, including 2016 US bronze medalists Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran and 2015 Skate Canada International bronze medalists Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro,” his biography stated.
In a statement Wednesday, Skate Canada said Gauthier “has been permanently expelled” from the national governing body for figure skating.
Gauthier had been suspended from the organization since Oct. 2, 2020, after it received confirmation of the criminal charges against him.
“Permanently expelled individual’s rights and privileges as a member of Skate Canada have been revoked, and application for reinstatement is not permitted,” the governing body said in a statement Wednesday.
According to an entry on Skate Canada’s website, Gauthier was described as having “the golden touch” in pairs skating, and as being “one of the most respected pair coaches in the world for the better part of three decades.” The entry noted that Gauthier wanted his legacy to be his coaching record.
The organization said Wednesday it is committed to “providing an environment where everyone can experience the joy of skating in a safe and healthy manner.”
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