July 18, 2013 1:21 pm

Ex-Olympian Myriam Bédard gets 45 days of community service

Canadian Myriam Bedard smiles as she displays her gold medal won in the women's 15km individual biathlon at the Winter Olympic Games 18 February 1994 in Lillehammer.

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
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QUEBEC CITY – A Superior Court judge has found Myriam Bédard guilty of contempt of court and is slapping the former Olympic athlete with 45 days of community service, closing another chapter in Bédard’s ongoing legal saga.

Justice Ross Goodwin said if Bédard does not cooperate, she will have to serve 45 days in jail.

Canada’s 1994 “athlete of the year” has been embroiled in controversy since 2006, when she decided to leave the country with her 11-year-old daughter without alerting the father, biathlon coach Jean Paquet.

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Bédard traveled to Washington with her boyfriend, photographer Nima Mazhari, breaking a court agreement, and changed hotels almost daily to cover her tracks. In December 2006, Bédard was arrested in the state of Maryland, where she served 14 days in jail before being extradited back to Canada.

According to Justice Goodwin, “Bédard knew and was aware that she was depriving the father of his rights when she brought their daughter to Washington, on October 6, 2006, without informing the father, without telling him how long she would be gone, hiding her whereabouts.”

In 2007, a jury of 12 found Bédard guilty of kidnapping. Three years later, the Court of Appeal maintained the verdict.

Desperate to clear her name, Bédard went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. In October 2010, the country’s highest tribunal refused to hear her case.

Contempt of court charges were laid at the beginning of the legal process in 2006, but were only recently addressed. Bédard has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

In his ruling, Justice Goodwin also specified Bédard’s boyfriend, Nima Mazhari, “cannot interfere, in any way, in Bédard’s community work,” because he too could face charges of contempt of court.

Mazhari has been ordered to stay 150 metres away from the place where Bédard will serve her sentence.

© 2013 Shaw Media

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