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Former Whitecaps soccer coach Bob Birarda to be sentenced on sex charges

Birarda guilty of sexual assault and sexual touching involving 4 players under 18 years old
Former Vancouver Whitecaps and Canada U-20 women’s soccer coach Bob Birarda arrives at provincial court for a sentencing hearing, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. Birarda, 55, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual touching for offences involving four different people between 1988 and 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A provincial court judge in North Vancouver is expected to sentence Bob Birarda, a former coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Soccer Canada, for sex offences spanning two decades against female athletes.

Birarda, who is 55 years old, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual touching involving four female players who were under 18 years old.

Crown prosecutor Linda Ostry told the court during his sentencing hearing in June that Birarda coached two of the players at the time of the offences, while in the other two cases he was in a position of authority as a mentor and prominent figure in the soccer world.

The Crown had recommended a jail sentence of two years less a day, plus three years’ probation, while defence lawyer Bill Smart has argued Birarda should serve an eight-month term.

Birarda read an apology during the sentencing hearing to the victims and all others he said he has let down, including his family, sayingthere is no excuse or justification for his actions and that he can’t say sorry “enough times.”

The court heard the offences took place between 1988 and 2008, and range from Birarda having sex with a teen player while he was her coach in his early 20s, to pursuing a 17-year-old when he was 40.

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