British Columbia

B.C. coach found guilty of voyeurism for taking photos of boys in locker room

A longtime B.C. youth hockey and baseball coach has been found guilty of two counts of voyeurism for taking photographs of underage players changing in the locker room.

Judge rules photos were taken surreptitiously and in place where there’s expectation of privacy

Long-time Lower Mainland youth hockey and baseball coach Randy Downes (Coquitlam RCMP)

A longtime B.C. youth hockey and baseball coach has been found guilty of two counts of voyeurism for taking photographs of underage players changing in the locker room.

Randy William Downes has coached at various levels for three decades in the Lower Mainland, including with the Burnaby Winter Club, the Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association and Coquitlam-Moody Baseball.

The two boys at the heart of the trial were between the ages of 12 and 14 when the photographs were taken and playing on teams coached by Downes. Their identities are protected under a publication ban.

The children were partially clothed in the photographs presented in court, but many of the images focused on the children's underpants and bare torsos as they changed.   

The B.C. Supreme Court found Downes guilty because the photos were taken surreptitiously and in a locker changing room — a place where there's a reasonable expectation of privacy.

"[The victims] were children. They were vulnerable. It is the adults around them who were responsible for protecting their reasonable expectations of privacy," Justice Heather MacNaughton said in her judgment.

"[They] were particularly vulnerable due to the fact that they were young athletes who would have had a significant relationship of trust with their coach."

Images cropped, e-mailed, downloaded

Downes was charged for the photographs he took in 2013 and 2015. In many cases, he cropped and e-mailed the photographs to himself after snapping them on his phone.

The images were later downloaded to his home computer and saved to a USB stick. 

"Children's athletic coaches are in a position of trust with respect to the children they coach,"  MacNaughton said.

"It is inherent in the coach-athlete relationship that the athlete can reasonably expect coaches not to abuse their position of authority over them, by taking photographs of them while they are dressing and undressing."

There are currently policies in place to protect children and young athletes' privacy like having two adults present and banning cell phones in locker rooms.

The investigation into Downes began in 2016 when his electronic devices were searched by border officers when he was coming back into Canada from a trip to Washington state. 

While looking for receipts and invoices for duty tax purposes, the officers found suspicious photographs of a young boy taken in multiple different locations in a store, and they flagged Downes to RCMP.

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