A lawyer for Bob Birarda appeared Dec. 16 in North Vancouver Provincial Court, 53 weeks after the ex-Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team coach was charged with multiple sex crimes.
Birarda faces six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring. He was charged with offences against four individuals between Jan. 1, 1988 and March 25, 2008 on the North Shore and in Burnaby. Birarda, who was an assistant coach on Canada’s Beijing 2008 Olympics team, is expected to finally make a plea during an arraignment hearing on Jan. 13.
The case had been delayed multiple times over the last year. During an appearance that lasted less than two minutes, defence lawyer Bill Smart told the court that he, and the Crown prosecutor, had “spent months trying to reach an acceptable resolution, but most of all a detailed agreed statement of facts.”
In February 2019, former Whitecap and national team player Ciara McCormack blew the whistle on Birarda’s return to youth coaching with Coastal FC in South Surrey. Birarda was suspended.
She is not among the four alleged victims, whose names are protected by a publication ban.
Earlier this fall, another former player, Malloree Enoch, blew the whistle on former Whitecaps’ coach Hubert Busby Jr., for allegedly soliciting her for sex while recruiting her for the team in 2011. Busby departed the Whitecaps in similar fashion as Birarda in 2012.
Major League Soccer hired lawyers Janice Rubin and Melody Jahanzadeh of the law firm Rubin Thomlinson to investigate in the wake of the allegations about Busby. Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster said executives still with the club were placed on administrative leave, but he did not identify them.
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