Former Vernon hockey coach found guilty of sexual assault | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

Current Conditions Mostly Cloudy  11.4°C

Vernon News

Former Vernon hockey coach found guilty of sexual assault


A former Vernon hockey coach has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female player almost 20 years ago.

Well-known hockey coach and Vernon businessman Keith Gordon Grant Chase shook his head when Justice Gary Weatherill read out his guilty verdict Friday, March 11, at the Vernon courthouse.

Chase was found guilty of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old hockey player when she slept over at his home before a playoff game sometime in the early 2000s.

Justice Weatherill said the player had been the daughter of close family friends.

Chase didn't deny that the sexual encounter took place, but argued it was consensual.

The victim was 16 years old at the time and Chase was married and in his mid-30s.

The complainant's name is covered under a publication ban and some of the details in this story have been kept purposely vague to protect her identity.

The court heard how, while the teen was sleeping over at his family home before a playoff game, he'd gone into the kitchen and started kissing her.

She then went upstairs to the bedroom and got into bed. He followed and sat on her bed. He then put his hands under her clothes and sexually assaulted her.

"As he did so (she had) a feeling of embarrassment she recalls feeling sick and wondering when it would be over," the Justice told the court. "She did not move or say anything."

The victim said she knew at the time what Chase was doing was wrong but her 16-year-old brain was unable to process it.

Chase had then told her not to tell anyone.

Chase had a different version of events and says the teen asked him for a back rub while they were both downstairs.

He said she came onto him and it was consensual.

The hockey coach also says there was a second incident of consensual sexual activity during a party later that year.

"He admits to engaging in sexual activity and says she is mistaken about the sequence of the events and the nature of the events as they were," Justice Weatherill said. "While he admits the encounters between them were morally wrong because of his position as (her) coach and ... the age difference, he says she not only consented but initiated (the sexual activity)... and she was a willing participant."

However, the justice found holes in Chase's testimony.

"I found his evidence had some serious shortcomings," the Justice said. "Some of his testimony was implausible and lacked the type of precision that would be expected if he was explaining actual events," he said. "He tried to minimize his role in (the) sexual encounters by suggesting (the teen) was the instigator and a willing participant."

The Justice said Chase had made up the second sexual encounter that was supposed to have happened at a party later in the year.

Chase, who owns Chasers Bottle Depot, has been coaching hockey for 30 years and was awarded the SportBC Community Sport Hero Award in 2015 for his service to the game.

The Justice found that while some of the victim's evidence didn't match that of an earlier statement given to the police she was a credible witness.

The court heard that after the sexual assault the teen had become less focused on hockey and started drinking excessively. She graduated high school but later dropped out of university.

She gave up on her dream of playing hockey for Team Canada.

She later returned to university and has since married and had children and has a successful career.

Several years after the sexual assault she told her parents who confronted Chase.

Wanting to put closure on the assault, she confronted Chase again in 2020. She then went to the police and he was charged.

Justice Weatherill said the case came down to the credibility of both parties and whether the victim provided consent.

"I was impressed by the authenticity of (the victim's) testimony," the Justice said, adding her decision to keep it secret struck him as authentic.

"I conclude that the accused conduct as described by (the teen) was intentional and carried out for a sexual purpose, I also conclude that (the teen) did not consent to the (sexual) encounter with the accused," the Justice said.

"The accused sexually assaulted (the teen) to the extent that he may have thought (she) was consenting but either as a result of his... intoxication, reckless or willful blindness, and or his failure to take reasonable steps to ascertain her consent," he said. "The accused has a ... duty to take reasonable steps to ensure she was consenting to the sexual acts... instead of ensuring that consent, I conclude that the accused acted with willful blindness, callous indifference and recklessness as to whether (the victim) was actually consenting to sexual activities.

"Silence is not consent."

Chase will be sentenced at a later date.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2022

  • Popular kamloops News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile