Canadian pairs skating coach Gauthier sentenced for sexual assault
MONTREAL (AP) — Renowned Canadian pairs skating coach Richard Gauthier was sentenced Monday to 12 months in jail for sexual assault and gross indecency against a teenage athlete in the 1980s.
Gauthier, 61, was found guilty in January of two charges dating to 1984 or 1985 involving the male skater, who was 14 or 15 at the time of the offenses. He was acquitted of a third count of indecent assault against the victim, whose identity was not released.
Quebec Judge Josée Bélanger told the court that Gauthier deserves a harsh sentence due to factors that include the age of the victim and the position of authority and trust Gauthier had over him.
“The fact that the victim was a child increases the degree of responsibility of the offender, and that’s because of the vulnerability of children,” she said. “The court concludes that the accused’s responsibility is very great.”
Gauthier was accused of having bathed and showered with the victim.
Gauthier spent more than three decades training world-class pairs skaters. He was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a coach in 2015, though he was expelled from Skate Canada following his conviction.
Several prominent members of the skating community testified in court on Gauthier’s behalf.
The victim was in court and cried as the decision on sentencing was read. He then turned his head and watched as Gauthier was handcuffed and taken into custody at the end of the hearing.
Gauthier’s legal team had asked that he be given a suspended sentence, or a jail term that could be served on weekends, which Bélanger said would have been “inappropriate” and minimized the crimes.
Gauthier denied committing any sexual acts toward the victim, but said he’d lacked judgment by putting himself in a position where he was alone with his student outside of a training or competition setting.