A Crown prosecutor is seeking a nearly two-year sentence for a former Vancouver Whitecaps women’s soccer coach who pleaded guilty to sex charges.
Bob Birarda, who has also coached Canadian national junior teams, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual touching.
The offences, involving four different people, took place between 1988 and 2008.
Prosecutor Linda Ostry told a North Vancouver Provincial Court judge that the Crown is recommending a jail sentence of two years less a day, covering consecutive sentences for each of the offences, plus three years of probation.
The Crown has also requested a DNA sample, a mandatory 10-year firearms ban and, if a jail sentence is handed down, a restraining order for each of the victims.
Birarda was fired by the Whitecaps and Canada Soccer in October 2008.
More than a dozen women who played for the Whitecaps and were part of Canada’s under-20 talent pool have come forward alleging that Birarda, a former coach of both teams, acted inappropriately with members of the team.
Birarda was initially charged in December 2020 with six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring.
The charges were updated in February.
The allegations included rubbing a player’s thigh, texting players sexually, making lewd comments and bullying young women who ignored or spoke out against his behavior.
The claims prompted hundreds of fans to quit several Whitecaps games in the spring of 2019 over the club’s handing over of the allegations.
Team co-owner Jeff Mallett issued an apology to the women involved in May 2019 and thanked them for coming forward.
Major League Soccer announced last November that it had hired attorneys Janice Rubin and Melody Jahanzadeh to conduct an independent review into the Whitecaps’ handling of misconduct allegations against Birarda.
—The Canadian Press