VERNON - A man who taught gymnastics throughout the North Okanagan area is facing three counts of child pornography.
Chad Andrew McDowell, born in 1975, is accused of possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and importing or distributing child pornography, all with an offence date of April 1, 2017. The three charges were sworn on June 17. There is no charge for creating child pornography.
McDowell previously ran Kalamalka Acro & Tumbling out of Lumby. The program was advertised in the White Valley Parks Recreation and Culture program guide from 2014 to 2016.
McDowell is also mentioned in an annual report from the North Valley Gymnastics Society, dated Oct. 17 2012. The report says he was hired in August 2012 to lead coaches and further develop the gymnastics programs, however according to a civil claim filed in Vernon Court in 2013, he was dismissed by the society just a few months later. In the notice of claim, McDowell states he was subjected to a number of accusations regarding competency and molesting of children, and was wrongfully dismissed. The gymnastic’s society denied his allegation of facts, and said he was dismissed with pay in lieu of notice. The case ended in July 2014 in favour of McDowell, who was awarded nearly $9,000 for severance pay.
Deb Green, president of North Valley Gymnastics, says McDowell was only employed for about 17 weeks before being dismissed. She says the society has had no further contact with him.
A source who says she was close friends with McDowell for three years tells iNFOnews.ca she was shocked and sickened to find out about the charges over the weekend. She says he stopped running Kalamalka Acro & Tumbling in Lumby in 2016, but was still doing some coaching in the North Okanagan in 2017. She requested anonymity to protect her family’s privacy.
Efforts to reach McDowell by phone and email have been unsuccessful. His Facebook profile, and the page for Vernon Acro, both appear to have been taken down recently.
A KickStarter campaign from 2014 shows McDowell was trying to raise money to purchase more equipment and a cargo van to provide more service to rural communities.
Recreation guides indicate the age groups McDowell worked with ranged from pre-school to age 13.
Court documents indicate McDowell was released on bail of $500 on June 17. He next appears in Vernon Provincial Court Aug. 10.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
— This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. June 20, 2017 to include information from civil claim documents and again at 12:30 p.m. to include a statement from North Valley Gymnastics.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston 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.