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Former Sask. hockey coach found guilty of sexual assault and assault

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-- Warning. The following story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

Former Saskatchewan junior hockey coach Bernard (Bernie) Lynch was found guilty by a Regina Court of King’s Bench judge on Friday of sexual assault and assault stemming from incidents that took place in August of 1988.

“I knew it could go either way. It wasn’t a case where I thought for sure we were going to lose or for sure we were going to win. So I can’t say I was surprised,” said Andrew Hitchcock, Lynch’s lawyer.

“This was the result we wanted when we brought the case to court. The Crown all along has felt that we had a pretty compelling case,” said Chris White, Crown Prosecutor.

Lynch pleaded not guilty to both charges in September.

The complainant, who was a 17-year-old boy at the time, said that he was helping Lynch at a hockey school put on by the Regina Pats.

Justice Peter Bergbusch said when observing Lynch during his testimony, he found the coach to be evasive and combative at times and did not believe his testimony.

“He outlined his reasons for it. I think there are reasons to find the converse but I mean, those were the judges’ findings. I respect the judge very much and I appreciate what he said,” said Hitchcock.

Justice Bergbusch added the complainant’s testimony was straightforward and he did not appear to embellish the facts.

“We felt that we had a complainant in this matter who would do a good job of telling the court what happened. I hope this is vindication for him,” said White.

During the complainant’s testimony, he said that Lynch sexually assaulted him in a shower. Prior to that, he said he was staying at Lynch’s apartment for one night as part of the accommodations provided by the Pats.

The complainant said during the stay, Lynch bought alcohol for him and suggested they rent an adult film together while also offering the 17-year-old to bunk in his bed with him.

Lynch denied all the allegations against him and claimed he was outside of Saskatchewan for a coach’s conference and a separate hockey tournament at the time the alleged incidents took place.

During his testimony, Lynch said he invited the complainant, a junior hockey player at the time, to help coach the hockey school in Regina.

Lynch said he met the teen at a gas station two days before the camp was set to begin, helped him check into his hotel and showed him to the hockey rink that same night. Lynch claims that was the extent of their interactions before he got onto a plane to Calgary the next morning.

While under oath, Lynch changed his answers when asked several times if he might have taken the teen to his apartment. He originally told the defense it was possible, before backtracking and telling the Crown he was certain he did not go to his apartment with the teen.

Lynch coached both the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Humboldt Broncos in the 1980s. 

Lynch will be sentenced on Jan. 5.

-- With files from Allison Bamford and Angela Stewart.

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