Police checks are becoming an increasingly important requirement for employment and volunteering, especially for people working in sensitive jobs like the medical field or those working with children, as a case involving a former Adelaide gymnastics coach proves.
The coach involved has been convicted of child sex offences but managed to avoid jail, after the judge ruled it was unlikely he would commit such an offence again.
The 32 year old coach pleaded guilty to 2 counts of persistent sexual exploitation of a child after the court heard that he had conducted relationships with 2 under-age girls, aged 15 and 16 at the time. The two victims trained at the gym where the man coached between 2008 and 2011. The name of the coach has not been released to protect the identity of his victims.
The court also heard that the man befriended one of the girls when she was just 12 or 13 years old.
The coach’s lawyer said during the sentencing submissions that the man had carried out relationships with the girls in a “loving and caring” way. He said the man was immature not a paedophile.
He also went on to tell the court,
“He’s a silly, immature young man who got in a relationship with young women — he’s not a paedophile,”
“This should be looked at differently to the type of offending that comes under this charge … the relationships that he had with these two victims … was a loving, caring relationship.”
The court heard that one of the victim’s parents were aware of their daughter’s sexual relationship with the coach and that he had even attended family events.
The district court judge Steven Millsteed suspended a 2 year, 11 months jail sentence, because he said there was good reason to believe the man would not offend again.
The judge explained,
“I think it’s most unlikely that you will engage in any form of criminal misconduct in the future,”
The judge went on to state that a psychologist didn’t find the man to have “paedophilic interest in young girls”.
The judge also rejected comments made by the victims that the relationships did not have a long term negative impact on their lives, saying that young people often didn’t realise the full impact on their lives until later on.
The judge imposed a non-parole period of 18 months and ordered the man to go for sex counselling and psychological therapy.
Although the judge said he didn’t think the man would offend again, chances are this is not the type of person most parents would want around their children. That is why police checks are so crucial for people who work with young people such as teachers and coaches, whether volunteering or permanently employed.