Gym coach acquitted of sexual assault sues police

An Edmonton gymnastics coach who was found not guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a student is suing police over allegations of mistreatment.

An Edmonton gymnastics coach who was found not guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a student is suing police over allegations of mistreatment.

Perry Nile Larsen, 40, is seeking $500,000 in damages from Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd and three arresting officers.

In the documents, Larsen alleges police did not conduct a thorough investigation and that they sent out misleading information about the case through press releases.

He also alleges he was held for hours in the downtown police station without food or water and subjected to other measures as a way to get him to confess.

"He should have never been charged because the charge was the product of a negligent investigation, one that was contaminated by tunnel vision and bias," said Larsen's lawyer Tom Engel.

"When you charge somebody or you put somebody under investigation and then you go to the media and vilify the person and suggest that he's uncooperative and suggest that he's guilty, that goes way beyond any proper police conduct."

Larsen was found not guilty of sexual interference and sexual assault Wednesday. He was accused of pulling down the pants and underwear of a 12-year-old girl three times while helping her with a back handspring two years ago.

But Justice Mel Binder concluded there were fatal inconsistencies in the girl's version of events that led him to have reasonable doubt that the assault ever took place.

No one else saw the alleged incidents take place, even though Larsen and the girl were in a large, open and crowded gym.

The judge also gave weight to evidence from other adult coaches at the gym who testified that Larsen always acted appropriately and professionally.

Larsen's lawsuit was filed last month. None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court. Edmonton police have 20 days to respond.