A 28-year-old gymnastics coach in Mississauga faces five charges after he allegedly sexually assaulted a teenaged student over a period of several years.
Peel Regional Police said on Monday that investigators were contacted earlier this month by a girl, 15, who reported numerous sex-related incidents that are alleged to have happened over four years.
On Jan. 26, 2018, a Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued for Scott McFarlane. He turned himself in to police three days later.
McFarlane has been charged with:
- Sexual assault.
- Sexual interference.
- Child luring under 16-years-old.
- Making sexually explicit material available to a person under 16 years of age.
- Indecent exposure to person under 16 years of age.
Until October of 2017, McFarlane spent four years working at Manjak's Gymnastics on Sladeview Crescent in Mississauga.
According to Kelly Manjak, owner of Manjak's Gymnastics, McFarlane began working at the facility after a stint in Ottawa. McFarlane was terminated from that job for "issues that had to do with social media," Manjak told CBC Toronto.
Manjak said that McFarlane provided a police background check and references when he applied for a job, all of which checked out.
However, Manjak fired McFarlane last October for reasons unrelated to the charges he now faces. Manjak was unwilling to elaborate further on the details of the firing.
He said news of McFarlane's arrest came as a surprise to many at the gym, which caters to gymnasts aged two to 20.
"At Manjak's, we're devastated. I mean today I got the news myself and I haven't seen [McFarlane] since October so it definitely affects us and my heart goes out to the victim."
"Our policies in our club are going to tighten up, obviously," he explained. "Hopefully we can continue to eliminate this kind of situation in our sport."
In an interview with CBC Toronto, Peel police declined to say whether the teen girl was a student at Manjak's Gymnasium at the time the alleged assaults are said to have occurred.
Upheaval in gymnastics
McFarlane's arrest comes days after the disgraced former U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Nassar admitted to molesting some of the top gymnasts in the U.S., including several Olympians, over many years and pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct. He was already serving a lengthy sentence for possession of child pornography.
Nassar's sentencing hearing saw some 160 women and girls provide a powerful series of victim impact statements to the court.
According to Peel police, in addition to Mississauga McFarlane also spent time coaching in Oakville, Ont., Ottawa, Regina and Western Canada.
Investigators say they believe there may be more victims and anyone who had contact with him is urged to contact police.
Gymnastics Canada, the national governing body for the sport, and Gymnastics Ontario have both suspended McFarlane indefinitely.
"Gymnastics Canada has a zero tolerance policy for any type of behaviour that puts the safety and well- being of our participants at risk," said Richard Crépin, chair of Gymnastics Canada's board of directors, in a statement issued Monday.
"Our hearts go out to the victim in this case, and we want her, and the rest of our community to know that we will not rest until this type of behaviour no longer finds a home in the sport of gymnastics."
Gymnastics BC also issued a statement of its own, saying that McFarlane has "previously worked as a guest coach" at training camps in the province. The organization added that it has not received any complaints or allegations against him, but given his suspension from Gymnastics Canada, he is now ineligible to coach in B.C.