Soccer: Former coach charged with sex offences
VANCOUVER— A former coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canadian women’s teams has been charged with sexual offences involving four people.
The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement that Bob Birarda is facing six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring.
The alleged offences occurred in North Vancouver, Burnaby and West Vancouver between January 1988 and March 2008.
More than a dozen women who played for the Whitecaps and were part of Canada’s under-20 talent pool around 2008 have come forward to allege Birarda, a former coach for both squads, acted inappropriately with members of the team.
The allegations include rubbing a player’s thigh, sending players sexual text messages, making lewd comments and bullying young women who ignored or spoke out against his behaviour.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Birarda was dismissed by both the Whitecaps and Canada Soccer in October 2008.
Former player Ciara McCormack brought the allegations to public attention with a blog post in February 2019, saying neither the Whitecaps nor Canada Soccer adequately investigated when she complained about Birarda’s behaviour.
Hearing that charges had been laid against her former coach came as a surprise, McCormack said Thursday.
“It’s been such a long road to get to where we are,” she said, adding that she got emotional when she heard the news.