Canadian gymnastics coach charged with sexual assault 

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author:  Jacob Nelson and Konstantin Kharitonov| staff writer and sports editor


Brubukar’s trial is set to resume on December 13  / Bluewater Gymnastics Club 

Assaults have been alleged to occur from 2000-2007

“I am guilty of crossing the line, but I want you all to know that my intentions were not sexual or premeditated.”  

This is what Dave Brubaker said in a police interview when being questioned about his past – particularly between the years 2000 and 2007.  

Brubaker is the former director of the women’s national gymnastics team and he was being interviewed by the police because one of his pupils came forward with allegations pertaining to his time as a coach. The woman (who requested to remained unnamed) stated that as a young child, she was taken advantage of by Brubaker. 

The athlete stated that Brubaker would say hello and goodbye bye by kissing her on the lips. He would also routinely pick her up from school and take her back to his house before practice, where he would cuddle her in bed. To top it off, he would touch her in “inappropriate places” when giving her sports massages. Oh, and did I mention she was also 12 years old at the time?  

Brubaker denies claims of sexual assault stating that he did “cross the line,” but had no sexual intentions… (thank you for making your intentions clear Mr. Bubaker. That makes it all better). 

The problem, however, is not just surrounding this one instance. No, this is a problem that has deep roots in the sporting world and, specifically, gymnastics. Kyle Shewfelt, a former Canadian Olympic champion, commented on the situation by stating that there are “grey areas” in the sport of gymnastics, and it has been used time and time again to abuse power given to coaches of these young Olympic hopefuls. Just earlier this year we saw Ottawa gymnastics coach Scott McFarlane charged with sexual assault against a 15-year-old girl, after the girl went to the police with the allegations. And in May, gymnastics coach Michel Arsenault was charged with sexually assaulting three Quebec students a few decades ago. 

Shewfelt told CBC sports that incidents like these will start to shape the culture of gymnastics.  

“As a community, we need to come together, and we need to do everything we can to ensure the safety and protection of these young people and make sure there’s no grey areas.”   

These young children are putting their trust in their coaches to help elevate them to the next level. The time they spend with their coaches is also spent during very important years of their life. The coaches are almost like second parents and are responsible for helping these children grow into successful adults. 

Shewfelt also wants to reiterate that incidents like these are not common.  

“A large percentage of coaches and administrators in the gymnastic industry are there with the right intentions.” 

Shewfelt doesn’t want incidents like these dragging good people’s names through the mud, but he does recognize that it is the burden of students, parents, and most importantly coaches and administrators to make sure that incidents like this don’t happen again. 

And still, with this many charges already being laid just this year in gymnastics, it is starting to feel like a common occurrence rather than an isolated incident. With this year already providing three charges laid against three different coaches whose behavior has spanned the 2000s, it is becoming more and more likely that this is a systemic issue. This is especially true since the trial of Larry Nassar, where the American Olympic Gymnastics coach was convicted on sexually assaulting 250 young women, began to expose the child molesting monsters that reside in the sport. With only the news of these horrific actions only coming out now, it isn’t hard to predict more stories such as these coming out in the following months.  

It is frankly horrifying, because it isn’t just happening in one isolated part of the world far away. These sexual assaults happened here, in the Canadian Gymnastics program. And it’s happening to women and girls who are as young as 11 and 12 years old. This isn’t about running people’s names through mud, it is about finding and exposing those that are sexually abusing our youth and making sure that they receive their deserved punishment.  

To say that these abuses of power are grey areas is frankly a huge insult to the victims of these abuses. These victims are our children, and only now are they finally getting their voices heard. In the case of Scott McFarlane, one of his victims originally came to police in 2013; police did not lay any charges. He was hired by another gym immediately after the one he was working at, Tumblers Gymnastics, had fired him because of the allegations.  

These are not isolated incidents anymore. With the amount of coaches being charged with assaulting their athletes, it is time to see if the problem starts from higher above – not just the coaches, but the system as a whole. 

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