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Former Vancouver Whitecaps coach Bob Birarda gets two years in jail for sex offences

Click to play video: 'Former Whitecaps women’s coach sentenced'
Former Whitecaps women’s coach sentenced
Jail time today for a former Vancouver Whitecaps women's soccer coach who admitted to sexually assaulting a number of his players. As Julie Nolin reports, one of the whistleblowers hopes the penalty for Bob Birarda will finally provide closure for his victims. – Nov 2, 2022

Former Vancouver Whitecaps coach Bob Birarda was sentenced Wednesday for sexual offences that took place over two decades.

Birarda, 55, received a two-year sentence, with 16 months to be served in custody and eight months to be served in the community, followed by three years’ probation.

Judge Deanne Gaffar said Birarda “immeasurably harmed” and violated the sexual integrity of four “youthful'” soccer players, three of whom were under 18 years old at the time of the offences.

He was in a position of trust with each of the victims who feared that rejecting his interest in them would harm their soccer careers, she added.

Click to play video: 'Former Whitecaps coach Bob Birarda apologizes in court'
Former Whitecaps coach Bob Birarda apologizes in court

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

Crown prosecutor Linda Ostry told the court during his sentencing hearing in June that Birarda coached two of the players at the time of the offences, while in the other two cases he was in a position of authority as a mentor and prominent figure in the soccer world.

The Crown argued for a jail sentence of two years less a day plus three years’ probation, while defence lawyer Bill Smart argued that he should serve eight months.

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Birarda apologized to the victims, their families and the soccer world during a sentencing hearing in September.

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

The offences took place between 1988 and 2008, and range from him having sex with a teen player while he was her coach in his early 20s, to pursuing a 17-year-old when he was 40.

– With files from Canadian Press

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