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

Princeton – a Prince Town in waiting?

The Town of Princeton has been waiting 160 years for a Royal… Continue reading

RCMP release photos of man wanted in Princeton armed robbery

RCMP have released photos and a description of the man suspected of… Continue reading

Princeton gas station attendant robbed at gun point

A man wielding a hand gun robbed the Princeton Husky on Highway… Continue reading

Motorists face significant fines for handheld device use

Roughly one-quarter of vehicle collisions in British Columbia are attributed to distracted driving

COLUMN: Considering medically assisted dying

The federal government has undertaken to review of the current legislation

Older Canadians highlighted in Kelowna film project to fight ageism

The project is part of a campaign to combat ageism

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Group builds shelters for Vernon’s stray cats

Twenty insulated cat shelters were constructed by volunteers and delivered around town

UBCO partners with Boeing to test new anti-ice coating technology

The coating could one day be applied to all airplanes to prevent ice buildup

Revelstoke already double last year’s snowfall

The city is just below halfway to the snowiest winter on record

True Stories: Okanagan memoir-writers, reading

Reading with local North Okanagan writers Art Dalton, Patti Shales Lefkos, Raven Dahl, Janelle Hardy

Kelowna’s last video store, Leo’s Videos, to remain open despite failed sale

Kelowna’s last video rental store will remain open and under its namesake’s ownership

COLUMN: Choosing a face to show the world

It will not be easy to select the face to display on Canada’s new $5 bill

Most Read