Former gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker, right, leaves the court house in Sarnia, Ont., Tuesday, October 23, 2018 following the first day of testimony in his sexual assault trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

Sexual assault trial for former gymnastics coach continues

Dave Brubaker, who was formerly director of the women’s national gymnastics team, has pleaded not guilty.

In a letter written shortly after his arrest, a former gymnastics coach accused of sexually assaulting a young gymnast years ago apologized for “crossing the line” but insisted his actions were not sexually motivated.

Dave Brubaker penned the letter to the complainant, now a woman in her 30s, during a videotaped interview with police that was played at his sexual assault trial in Sarnia, Ont., on Wednesday.

“I have reflected on all the things uncovered … in the social media and the Me Too campaign,” he said in the letter that was also addressed to his wife and another gymnast. “I am guilty of crossing the line, but I want you all to know that my intentions were not sexual or premeditated.”

Brubaker, who was formerly director of the women’s national gymnastics team, has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching at his judge-alone trial. The charges relate to alleged incidents between 2000 and 2007.

The judge presiding over the case is considering whether to allow Brubaker’s interview into evidence after court heard that the interviewing officer is related to the complainant.

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Brubaker said in the police interview that since the complainant left the sport at 19, people’s expectations and standards of behaviour have changed.

“After (the complainant) stopped gymnastics and (another gymnast) went to university, we kind of reflected on a lot of things and we knew that we couldn’t carry on and we had to make changes,” he said in the interview. “Not just us but the whole sport.”

The woman has testified that Brubaker would kiss her on the lips to say hello and goodbye starting when she was 12 years old, and touch her inappropriately during sports massages.

Brubaker said he thought he was being a supportive coach at the time.

“I thought I was doing the right thing to help them,” he said in the police interview, denying his intent was sexual. ”I can see that by today’s measures it’s different.”

The complainant also said Brubaker would pick her up from school, and take her to his house where he occasionally would spoon her in bed and tickle her belly, before driving her to practice

Brubaker told the officer that he didn’t remember doing that.

In the police interview, Brubaker also distanced himself from other prominent men in the world of gymnastics who face allegations of sexual assault or misconduct, mentioning Larry Nassar, a former U.S. sports doctor sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison after being accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls.

“I just don’t want to be painted with that same brush, because I don’t have those same intentions,” Brubaker said.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

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