April 12th, 2024

Crown wants 25 years for Manitoba football coach who sexually assaulted students

By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press on March 20, 2024.

People enter the Law Courts in Winnipeg on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. A disgraced former high school football coach apologized during a sentencing hearing for the "grief and shame" he caused to the nine students he sexually assaulted. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG – A disgraced former high school football coach apologized during a sentencing hearing for the “grief and shame” he caused to the nine students he sexually assaulted.

However, the Crown prosecutor is arguing that Kelsey McKay conducted an unrelenting, decade-long campaign of grooming and assaults on teenage boys and a fit sentence is 25 years in prison.

McKay provided a brief statement Wednesday at the end of a two-day sentencing hearing in Winnipeg provincial court.

In front of a courtroom that included some of his victims and their families, McKay apologized and said he is taking his imprisonment as an opportunity to learn more about himself.

“One hundred per cent of the responsibility lies with me,” he said.

McKay pleaded guilty to nine counts of sexual assault and two counts of luring last July stemming from charges of dozens of sexual offences from the year prior.

The Crown is seeking a “just and appropriate” sentence of 25 years given the “psychological and emotional harm” he inflicted on the former players.

“The offending was unrelenting … This was not a one-time error in judgment,” prosecutor Katie Dojack told the court.

“(McKay) engaged in a sophisticated campaign of grooming … His offending was insidious, devious and was highly egregious.”

McKay’s lawyers argued the Crown’s request is excessive and have suggested 13 years and three months.

“This (13 years) is not an insignificant number. It’s a meaningful sentence,” said co-counsel Lisa LaBossiere.

The assaults occurred in the 2000s while McKay was coaching football at two Winnipeg high schools. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 18.

Court heard McKay was considered a father figure to the boys, and that many struggled and did not have a positive relationship with adults at home.

Dojack said the football coach used his position of trust and authority to groom the boys and in some cases, supplied them with alcohol as a tool to reduce their inhibitions and showed them pornography.

One victim told the court he struggles with suicide ideation and drug and alcohol abuse.

“I tried to pretend I was OK. Numbed myself by partying,” the man read from a victim impact statement on Tuesday.

The man said he hid the secret of the abuse for 15 years before going to police so he could start his “healing journey.”

He told court he continues to take medications daily for mental health issues and has trust issues that resulted in his divorce.

The man claimed McKay groomed him for six years, “just for 15 minutes of a fantasy that caused me a lifetime of trauma.”

Court also heard that one of the victims died by suicide after the charges came out publicly.

The man’s sister said she’s been numb since her brother’s death.

“We’ll never get to see how far his talents could have taken him,” she read from a victim impact statement.

A compilation of video statements given to police by the man prior to his suicide were played in court. In the video, he tells police parts of his life were destroyed because of the abuse.

McKay is M├ętis and comes from what he called a stable home.

An agreed statement of facts said McKay experienced racism growing up and suffered from abuse outside of the home as a child.

He has no prior criminal record, no history of substance abuse or mental health concerns.

The judge reserved his decision for a later date.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2024.

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