New Brunswick·Special Report

Canada Games judo coach John Mallory's appointment challenged

There are calls for the removal of one of New Brunswick's Canada Games coaches amid revelations he served a suspension two years ago for misconduct.

Judo Canada found coach responsible for 3 counts of misconduct involving female teen athlete

Martine Chenhall, wearing white, won one gold medal for New Brunswick in the 2011 Canada Games. (Courtesy of Martine Chenhall)

There are calls for the removal of one of New Brunswick's Canada Games coaches amid revelations he served a suspension two years ago for misconduct.

John Mallory of Saint John is a fifth-degree black belt and a longtime judo coach. One of those calling for his removal is a national gold-medal winner in the sport.

John Mallory (Facebook)
Mallory coached Martine Chenhall when she was younger. She went on to collect one of just two gold medals for New Brunswick at the 2011 Canada Games.

In 2012, following a Judo Canada investigation, Mallory was found responsible for three misconduct violations. They include having unwanted physical contact, and making unwelcome advances toward Chenhall.

The incidents were investigated by police and no charges were laid.

CBC attempted to reach Mallory by phone and by email but did not get a response.

Judo New Brunswick is also not responding, referring calls on the matter to Claude Lesage of Judo Canada, who could not be reached.

Incidents involved promising young teen girl

The incidents occurred several years ago when Chenhall was a promising 13- and 14-year-old athlete.

Mallory became her coach a couple of years earlier when she moved into a senior class at Shimpokai Judo Club in Saint John. Chenhall was usually the only female in the class. She says Mallory was a friend of her father and their relationship developed into one where Mallory encouraged her to give him hugs and kisses on the cheek during the training.

Martine Chenhall, shown in blue, is now 22. She was a promising 13- and 14-year-old judo athlete when she was coached by John Mallory. (Courtesy of Martine Chenhall)
"Really, we were too close," Chenhall, who is now 22, told CBC.

Events came to a head during a provincial awards banquet in Edmundston in 2007 when Chenhall was 14. CBC has obtained the Judo Canada report of the disciplinary hearing that lead to Mallory's suspension.

"You would feel uncomfortable if you witnessed it. If you were an outsider looking in you would feel uncomfortable about how close this young girl was with this older man. But it was because it was happening slowly over time. It wasn't just one day it happened."

You would feel uncomfortable if you witnessed it.- Martine Chenhall, judo athlete

It describes a gathering of several people from the Shimpokai club in a hotel room following the banquet. Mallory asked Chenhall to step outside the room so the two could talk about an award she had expected to win but did not. He suggested they move into a nearby staircase where he asked the young teen to sit on his lap.

"The respondent is not credible as to his motivation for taking her aside" notes the report, "By any objective standard, a hotel guest passing by, seeing a 45 (year) old man with a teenager on his lap, by themselves in the late evening, would be more than perplexed about the moral propriety of this encounter."

Chenhall told the inquiry that while in the staircase – while she sat on his lap – Mallory put his hand on her lower back and tried to kiss her on the mouth. She stood up and left, going back to the hotel room she shared with a chaperone. She told no-one about the incident until about one year later when she related it to her father.

Coach found responsible for misconduct

Mallory was later found responsible for three counts of misconduct by a Judo Canada Board. One for having "unwanted physical contact" and making "unwelcome advances" after the judo banquet. The second is for having unwanted physical contact on another occasion during a private judo practice. The third is a violation of the Code of Conduct for coaches for treating an athlete as a "teacher's pet" over a three-year period.

As a result Mallory was suspended by Judo Canada for a four-month period ending August 31st, 2012. He was also ordered to take a course on ethics in sport.

Stephen Goddard believes that sentence is a slap on the wrist.

We're not sending the right message.- Stephen Goddard, president Kikoyan Judo Club

"We're not sending the right message," says Goddard, the president of Kiyokan Judo Club in Saint John.

Goddard says the culture in New Brunswick's judo community has to change.

Goddard became directly involved in the Chenhall case when the teenager joined Kiyokan after leaving the Shimpokai club where Mallory was senior coach. She described her experience years earlier with Mallory to a female coach at her new club. That coach then brought the matter to Goddard. What happened next points to problems with Judo New Brunswick's ability or willingness to deal with misconduct allegations against its coaches and officials.

Under normal circumstances misconduct allegations are investigated by the provincial organization, but Goddard says Judo New Brunswick failed to do so.

Stephen Goddard, the president of Kiyokan Judo Club, said John Mallory should never have been named Canada Games coach after being found responsible for misconduct. (Roger Cosman / CBC)
Goddard says there was then no place in New Brunswick to take the complaint so he pleaded with Judo Canada to get involved and eventually the national organization did, assigning harassment officer Suzanne Belson to the case. Belson, a consultant from Montreal, travelled to Saint John to conduct interviews before writing a report recommending a formal investigation.

The subsequent hearing, before a board of three Judo Canada-appointed panelists, was held March 31, 2012 in a meeting room at UNBSJ.  Mallory admitted to the panel that he asked Chenhall to sit on his lap in the staircase.

The board did not accept his claim that his lips brushed against Chenhall's accidentally when he attempted to kiss her on the cheek.

Goddard says the panel gave a fair hearing but questions the sentence. He says the four-month ban from coaching was far too short. He notes too that it was imposed largely during the summer months – from May 1 to August 31 2012 – when there is no judo.

Canada Games appointment challenged

Goddard also questions strict confidentiality provisions included in the sentence. He says that rule – which threatens "disciplinary proceedings" should anyone violate confidentiality of the matter – effectively makes it impossible for parents to be informed of the misconduct. He also says Mallory should never have been appointed judo coach in 2013 for New Brunswick's Canada Games team.

"This is an incident that occurred when this young woman was 14 years old. And the coach essentially had — there was unwanted physical contact. I don't think that many people would feel that that is appropriate in any way. And therefore I would have thought that that would not allow this coach to continue in the sport in any way. I would have expected a life-time ban of that coach."

While Judo New Brunswick will not respond to questions about the misconduct violations or about Mallory's position as Canada Games coach, the man who was president of the organization when Mallory was appointed did speak to CBC. Jason Stears says Mallory met all the criteria for the job and is a member in good standing of both Judo New Brunswick and Judo Canada. He says he was selected by a panel following a detailed lengthy interview process that included a criminal background check. There were "zero issues" said Stears.  He said he could not comment on the misconduct violations.

For now Mallory remains coach for male athletes on New Brunswick's Canada Games Judo team. The power to remove him rests with Judo New Brunswick and/or Judo Canada. The games are scheduled to begin Feb. 13 in Prince George, B.C.

Martine Chenhall, shown in blue, was usually the only female in her class when she was coached by Mallory at the Shimpokai Judo Club in Saint John. (Courtesy of Martine Chenhall)

John Mallory discipline board report