Okanagan gymnastics coach sentenced for possession of ‘obscene material’

Chad McDowell previously faced three counts related to child pornography

A former North Okanagan gymnastics coach previously facing charges of child pornography will spend the next six months under a conditional sentence order.

Chad McDowell, 43, was handed the sentence by Judge Mark Takahashi in Vernon provincial court Friday, March 8. Originally facing charges of possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and importing or distributing child pornography, McDowell pleaded guilty to, and was sentenced for, one count of possession of obscene material for the purpose of circulation.

“There is no suggestion from any parent or child that he had been coaching gymnastics with, and the police did interview a number of them, that he had ever touched one of the children inappropriately or acted in a sexually inappropriate way to any of the children,” defence counsel Julian van der Walle said. “He is extremely remorseful. He has abided by his bail conditions almost religiously.”

An online investigation into suspected was launched June 6, 2017, by the B.C. Integrated Child Exploitation Unit, into the possible possession of obscene materials. A search warrant of McDowell’s residence on June 16, 2017, resulted in the seizure of several electronic devices.

“Files consistent with the user of the iPad and iPhone accessing child pornography were found on the iPad and iPhone,” said Crown prosecutor Brock Bellrichard.

Related: Resolution found for former North Okanagan gymnastics coach facing child pornography charges

Related: North Okanagan gymnastics coach awaits move to provincial court

McDowell, van der Walle said, suffered an accident as a child that caused “intellectual deficits” likely to be permanent. This accident caused McDowell to suffer from regular seizures at a young age and impacted his ability to socialize with other children. He also suffers from recurring pain as a result of the accident.

“Since the accident when he was six-years-old, he basically, his entire life, had a very hard time socializing with people and getting to know them in a more meaningful way beyond merely just being superficial,” van der Walle said.

Shortly after his high school graduation, McDowell began teaching gymnastics. McDowell came to Vernon from Canmore in 2011 as a coach and continued that career until his arrest.

“Since his arrest, my client has taken steps to rectify things. He is deeply remorseful for what he was doing. My client advises that he was suicidal after the arrest.”

As a result, McDowell has spent more than 100 hours in counselling and is no longer suicidal, van der Walle said.

The circulation portion of the charge, van der Walle said, comes from the documents being in a shared folder on McDowell’s devices.

Other mitigating factors include McDowell’s guilty plea to the lesser charge that saved the Supreme Court a two-week trial. The defence also has a strong charter argument involving several breach allegations that could have resulted in some of the evidence being excluded, van der Walle said.

Related: Gymnastics coach facing child pornography charges

In addition to the six-month conditional sentence, the joint-submission sought a three-year probation order and 10-year common law peace bond, under which McDowell cannot be in possession of any device capable of using any internet browser or any device capable of facilitating access to the World Wide Web, among other restrictions.

The Crown entered a stay of proceedings on the charges of possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and importing or distributing child pornography.



parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Community of Oliver salutes frontline medical staff

“Honk for the unsung heros. Thanks to each and every one of you”

Summerland’s April 1 snow measurements above normal

Measurements taken at Summerland Reservoir and Isintok Lake

Okanagan Skaha School Board does not anticipate closures

School district budget tight as a result of declining enrolment

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

YMCA Okanagan opens child care service to essential workers

Priority given to guardians in top three tiers of essential services as identified by the province

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

Okanagan College student designs map tracking spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

Sean Heddle says fighting complacency and misinformation is important

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in West Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

COLUMN: Responding with the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy

Support available for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

EDITORIAL: Are you a virus jerk? Take our short quiz to find out

Are you a virus jerk? Take this short quiz to learn the… Continue reading

Most Read