‘I am so sorry’: former Vancouver Whitecaps coach apologizes for sex offences

Click to play video: 'Former Whitecaps coach Bob Birarda apologizes in court'
Former Whitecaps coach Bob Birarda apologizes in court
An emotional Bob Birarda broke down in tears, as he apologized to his female victims for his crimes, that spanned decades. Sarah MacDonald was in court and has more on the sentencing hearing, and Birarda's apology. – Sep 2, 2022

A former women’s coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canadian national youth soccer teams says he is filled with the “deepest shame” for sex offences against four players between 1988 and 2008.

Bob Birarda read an apology to the victims and everyone else he says he let down, including his family and the soccer community, during a sentencing hearing at North Vancouver provincial court on Friday.

He said there was no excuse or justification for his actions and he cannot say sorry “enough times.”

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Birarda, 55, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual touching involving four female players who were under 18.

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Defence lawyer Bill Smart argued Birarda should face a total sentence of one year for the offences, consisting of eight months in jail and a four-month conditional sentence order.

The Crown has recommended a jail sentence of two years less a day, plus probation for three years. It also asked for a DNA sample, a mandatory 10-year firearms ban and, if a jail term is ordered, a non-communication order for each of the women.

Click to play video: 'Bob Birarda back in court for sentencing hearing'
Bob Birarda back in court for sentencing hearing

In June, Crown prosecutor Linda Ostry told the court that in two cases, Birarda was the players’ coach at the time of the offences. In the other two, he maintained a position of authority as a prominent figure in the soccer world and mentor, she said.

“I cannot find the words to adequately express the depth of my regret, sorrow, shame and self-loathing I have felt,” Birarda told the court.

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“I am so sorry.”

Click to play video: 'Ex-Whitecaps soccer coach pleads guilty to sex crimes'
Ex-Whitecaps soccer coach pleads guilty to sex crimes

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