January 27, 2023

MONTREAL — A renowned ex-Canadian pair skating coach was found guilty on Wednesday of sexual assault and gross indecency dating back nearly 40 years.

MONTREAL — A renowned ex-Canadian pair skating coach was found guilty on Wednesday of sexual assault and gross indecency dating back nearly 40 years.

Richard Gauthier was on trial on three counts relating to crimes he committed in the 1980s involving a teenage male skater he trained.

Gauthier, 61, was found guilty of two counts in a ruling by Quebec Judge Josée Bélanger. He was acquitted of the third count of indecent assault against the victim, whose identity falls under a publication ban.

“The evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s conduct caused serious harm to the plaintiff,” 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 trained him for about six years until the victim turned 18.

Gauthier was accused of bathing naked with the victim, showering with him and spooning naked with him in a bed at the defendant’s home.

“These are sexual gestures by the defendant towards the athlete he trained, loved and admired very much,” Belanger said. “As is apparent from the statement by the complainant, the defendant suffered serious mental damage as a result of the defendant’s conduct. This prejudice is high.”

The judge did not believe Gauthier’s version of events, who was charged in 2020.

“Not only is the defendant not credible, his testimony is also not credible. It contains certain additions, glaring inconsistencies and evolves through the questions that are asked in the cross-examination,” the judge ruled.

Prosecutor Amélie Rivard told reporters she was confident the verdict would send a message to survivors that time does not erase criminal acts. She said she hopes the ruling will encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward.

The case will be brought back to court next month.

In a statement Wednesday, Skate Canada said Gauthier had been “permanently expelled” from the national governing body for figure skating.

Gauthier had been suspended from the organization since October 2, 2020 after receiving confirmation of the criminal charges against him.

“A permanently disfellowshipped person’s rights and privileges as a member of Skate Canada have been revoked and a request for reinstatement is not permitted,” the governing body said in a statement Wednesday.

Gauthier has a long track record of coaching world-class skaters. In 2015 he was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a coach.

According to an entry on Skate Canada’s website, Gauthier has been described as “the golden touch” in pairs skating and “one of the most respected pairs coaches in the world for nearly three decades.” The entry noted that Gauthier wanted his legacy to be his coaching record.

The organization said Wednesday it is committed to “creating an environment where everyone can experience the joy of skating in a safe and healthy way.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 25, 2023.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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