soccer

Former South Surrey soccer coach who also led Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team charged with sex offences

Robert Steven Birarda charged with sexual exploitation, sexual assault, child luring

More than a year after a Coastal FC soccer coach was suspended by the club amid allegations of past abuse, charges have been filed.

On Thursday, the BC Prosecution Service confirmed that Robert Steven Birarda has been charged with “several sexual offenses against four separate individuals.”

The charges include six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring, BCPS communications counsel Dan McLaughlin confirmed.

The offences are alleged to have “generally occurred” between Jan. 1, 1988 and March 25, 2008 at or near North Vancouver, Burnaby and West Vancouver.

Birarda appeared in North Vancouver Provincial Court yesterday (Dec. 9), and is next scheduled to appear on Jan. 28, 2021.

Birarda is a former coach with the Vancouver Whitecaps organization – he coached the women’s team from 2006 until 2008 – and also coached with Canada Soccer’s U-20 women’s team.

The alleged offences pre-date his time coaching in South Surrey with Coastal FC. Coastal FC suspended Birarda in February of 2019 after allegations were brought to light by a former high-level soccer player.

At that time – and multiple times since – Coastal FC executive director Chris Murphy told Peace Arch News that the club had no knowledge of the allegations prior to Birarda joining the club.

In April 2019, the Whitecaps released a statement saying that members of the organization were made aware of complaints in 2008 and “the Club immediately engaged an independent Ombudsperson, a leading expert in workplace safety and respected lawyer who specializes in this field, to do a thorough and impartial investigation into the complaints.”

However, the organization went on to say that “we are concerned there may be new information related to this matter that did not come forward in 2008 or since.”

Also at the time, the Whitecaps contacted the Vancouver Police Department about the matter, and the VPD confirmed to PAN that they had “been made aware.”

In May 2019, following a fan walkout of a Whitecaps’ Major League Soccer game at BC Place – an event organized by the Southsiders, one of the team’s supporter groups – team ownership issued another statement, this time an apology.

“As we reflect on what happened in 2008… we express sincere regret and empathy for the harm that has clearly come to many women who participated in our program at that time,” read the statement, which was signed by Whitecaps co-owners Greg Kerfoot and Jeff Mallett.

“The pain and suffering these women feel is real and something we care deeply about. And while we sought and acted on the advice of the best available counsel at the time, it is clear that people were deeply affected. For that we are sorry.”



editorial@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Girls soccerRCMP

Just Posted

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Surrey Fire Service battled a fire at an apartment building in Fleetwood late Friday night (May 14), near 84th Avenue and 160th Street. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Surrey firefighters continue to work to put out ‘stubborn’ fire

Four-storey building located at 84th Avenue near 160th Street; crews on scene for nearly 12 hours

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Most Read