Gymnastics coach accused of sex assault fired from Ottawa job in 2013

A gymnastics coach charged this week with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Mississauga, Ont., was fired for an inappropriate relationship with a minor in Ottawa nearly five years ago, according to his former employer.

Scott McFarlane, 28, charged Tuesday for sexual assault of 15-year-old girl in southern Ontario

Gymnastics coach Scott McFarlane was charged on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in relation to alleged sex-related acts with a 15-year-old girl. (CBC)

A gymnastics coach charged this week with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Mississauga, Ont., was fired for an inappropriate relationship with a minor in Ottawa nearly five years ago, according to his former employer.

Scott McFarlane, a 28-year-old from Ottawa, faces five charges including sexual assault and child luring after a 15-year-old girl went to Peel Regional Police earlier this month with allegations of multiple sex-related incidents alleged to have happened over a period of four years while MacFarlane was working as a coach at Manjak's Gymnastics in Mississauga.

It's not the first time McFarlane has been accused of inappropriate behaviour with a female minor.

In a statement to members late Tuesday, Tumblers Gymnastics Centre in Orléans detailed how McFarlane engaged in "inappropriate communications" with a female athlete in April 2013, which led to his firing.

Several former employees of the gym told CBC McFarlane was fired for sending inappropriate messages and shirtless photos of himself to a 12-year-old girl. The messages were found by the girl's mother, the former employees said.

According to the gym's statement, police and other "appropriate authorities" were informed of the situation. No charges were ever laid, and McFarlane's coaching licence was never suspended.

In an email to staff dated April 25, 2013, then-general manager Karl Balisch — a current member of the Gymnastics Canada executive — informed staff that McFarlane was no longer working at Tumblers, but revealed no other details.

Gymnastics Ontario told CBC Wednesday the organization was never made aware of the circumstances behind McFarlane's firing.

Ottawa police refused to comment on the 2013 accusations and directed all questions to Peel police, who said they only know about the most recent accusations against McFarlane.

McFarlane was fired from Tumblers Gymnastics Centre in Orléans in 2013. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

'I didn't know much about his past'

As a child, McFarlane trained at Tumblers in Ottawa before he started coaching there in 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile, which has since been taken down.

McFarlane spent eight years teaching at Tumblers before being fired and moving to Mississauga, where he quickly landed a new job.

McFarlane, who worked at Manjak's from 2013 to 2017, underwent a police background check and provided references when he applied for the job. It all checked out, according to gym owner Kelly Manjak.

"I didn't know much about his past," Manjak said Tuesday, adding that he was informed of McFarlane's firing from the Ottawa gym months after he hired him.

Manjak said he was told the firing had to do with "social media," and that no charges were ever laid.

Fired due to 'policy problems'

According to the statement from Tumblers, McFarlane continued to contact athletes in Ottawa after his move to Mississauga, and his former employer stepped in to "end those communications and prevent further contact."

In October 2017 McFarlane was fired from Manjak's over what the owner would only describe as "policy problems." Very soon after, McFarlane started coaching at a third gym in Oakville, Ont.

He only worked there for two weeks before asking for a leave of absence, according to Oakville Gymnastics CEO Wayne Hussey. Hussey said McFarlane's police check was clean.

"We have never heard anything bad about him," Hussey said Tuesday. "I just hope that the truth comes out in the near future."

Over the last two years, McFarlane has also been a guest coach at gymnastics camps in B.C., Saskatchewan and Quebec.

Mississauga, Ont., gym owner Kelly Manjak hired Scott McFarlane in 2013. McFarlane worked at Manjak's gym for four years. (CBC)

Multiple complaints to Gymnastics Ontario

Gymnastics Ontario CEO Dave Sandford said the organization was first alerted to allegations of suspicious behaviour by McFarlane in October 2017 — the same month he was fired from Manjak's — leading to a three-month suspension.

McFarlane was suspended indefinitely when the organization learned that police were investigating him, according to Sandford. Gymnastics B.C. and Gymnastics Canada also suspended McFarlane indefinitely after charges were laid Tuesday.

McFarlane has been released on bail and his next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 28.

Peel Regional Police believe there could be more victims and want anyone with information to contact them at 905-453-212, ext. 3460, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

McFarlane's arrest comes days after disgraced former U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prisonNassar admitted to molesting some of the top gymnasts in the U.S., including several Olympians.

The Canadian gymnastics community has been grappling with its own allegations of sexual misconduct. Former Canadian Olympic gymnastics team head coach Dave Brubaker was charged with sexual assault by Sarnia police in mid-December.

Quebec police are also investigating gymnastics coach Michel Arsenault after a Radio-Canada investigation revealed sexual assault accusations dating back to the 1980s and 1990s.