Minor hockey coach facing child pornography charges
A Hamilton minor hockey coach is facing three child pornography charges following a two-week sweep by investigators in Hamilton Police Service’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit.
Steven West, 43, is one of four men facing a total of 11 charges related to child pornography.
West has been charged with possession of child pornography, making child pornography available and accessing child pornography.
West was the head coach of the Hamilton Huskies’ major peewee Minor Development Red team.
It is open to boys 12 and under as of Dec. 31, 2016.
The team is one step below the AA level.
The charges resulted from seven search warrants executed by Hamilton police at locations across the city between Feb. 13 and 27 as part of Project Silver Thaw.
Numerous electronic devices were seized and are still being analyzed, police said.
Investigators expect to make more arrests and lay more charges.
Yosh Kitamura, president of the Hamilton Huskies minor hockey organization, said West has been removed as coach of the team.
It’s believed to be West’s second year as a coach in the Huskies’ organization.
Kitamura said representatives from the organization have met with all of the parents on the team and no incidents of concern have been reported by parents.
“They were as dumbfounded as we were,” Kitamura said.
“We had no information whatsoever.
“Our main concern is the children,” he added.
“There’s nothing else that’s come forward from anyone on the hockey team as of right now.”
Kitamura said the Huskies’ organization went through its normal due diligence with no red flags raised.
“Mr. West did have a current police check this past year and it came back with nothing on it,” said Kitamura.
The president said the organization has informed its governing bodies about the situation.
The Huskies have modified the coaching structure to allow the team to complete the season.
“Our main concern is that we provide a healthy and safe and happy environment for children to play in,” said Kitamura.
West was a coach in the Coronation Minor Hockey Association from October 2010 until April 2013.
The association sent an email to parents Sunday alerting them to the charges against West.
It also encouraged parents in the email to speak to their children about any concerns they may have.
The other three men arrested include:
Gary Taylor, 74, of Hamilton is charged with two counts of possession of child pornography and making child pornography available.
Stephen Lachance, 35, of Hamilton is charged with two counts of possession of child pornography.
Robert Simmons, 50, is charged with two counts of possession of child pornography and making child pornography available.
Anyone with information on Internet child exploitation who wants remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or crimestoppershamilton.