British Columbia

Prince Rupert coach pleads guilty to youth sex charge

Prince Rupert's minor hockey community is in disbelief, after a former hockey coach pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation of an Alberta youth.

Minor league coaches urge parents not to be nervous

Prince Rupert's minor hockey community is in disbelief after a former hockey coach pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation of an Alberta youth.

Robert John Paolinelli made a surprising guilty plea in a Stony Plain, Alta., courtoom Wednesday afternoon.

Paolinelli was a hockey coach and high school teacher in Spruce Grove, Alta. He was also a referee in Prince Rupert between the mid-80s and late-90s.

Prince Rupert minor hockey referee Patrick Witwicki says community members had hoped the allegations weren't true.

"Especially those who are close to minor hockey and have kids who played minor hockey in the 1990s," he said.

Paolinelli is also under investigation for a sexual assault that allegedly occurred in Prince Rupert.

No charges have been laid in the Prince Rupert investigation, but police are asking anyone one who may have been victimized by Paolinelli to come forward.

Coach assures effors made to keep players safe

Minor hockey coaches in Prince Rupert are urging parents not to be nervous.

Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association head coach Bruce Tessier says efforts are being made to ensure players remain safe.

"A lot of our parents here work on making sure there are two adults in the dressing room at all times," he said.

Sexual exploitation charges are laid in cases where a person in a position of trust or authority touches the body of the young person for sexual purposes.

Crown and defence lawyers don't agree on what happened in the Alberta case, and a hearing to determine the facts is expected in the spring.  

With files from the CBC's George Baker.