A veteran junior hockey coach has been charged with sexual assault and sexual assault in Saskatchewan, TBEN News has learned following a complaint from a former player.
Bernie Lynch, who has coached across Canada, the United States and Europe for more than four decades, transformed into police in Devon, Alta., Over the weekend after the service of Regina police issued an arrest warrant on April 30. count each of the sexual assaults and sexual assaults dating back to August 1988. The complainant was 17 years old at the time.
The Regina Police Department has confirmed the 66-year-old is still in custody and will be transferred to Regina as part of their ongoing investigation.
Lynch is also the subject of another police investigation in Edson, Alta., where he coached Junior A Eros in the United States Hockey League (WSHL) during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. A recent TBEN News survey detailed allegations of abusive behavior by parents and players; and concerns about a close and possibly inappropriate relationship with a player.
In previous communications with TBEN News, Lynch said he was “shocked” by all the allegations “that have surfaced in the past few months”, describing them as a “smear campaign.”
In March, TBEN News reported that Lynch was suspended from his Ontario job as coach of the Junior A Fort Frances Lakers of the International Cross-Border Senior Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) shortly after New Years for sending in what the team called texts and “inappropriate” emails to one of his players.
‘A little weird’
The player told TBEN News that Lynch seeks to monitor and control his behavior, sending up to 50 unsolicited and junk messages in a single day.
“He would get angry if I didn’t answer him right away,” said the 20-year-old. “He would get angry even after games – like, we would finish at nine or ten and I would like to go out with my teammates.”
TBEN News granted his request for confidentiality because he feared repercussions in the hockey world.
“He would always be like, ‘Why don’t you just come with me?’ Like, ‘We’re going to have fun and watch a movie,’ ”he said. “A little weird.”
Some of the messages sent from Lynch’s phone were favorable. Others seemed romantic.
“The last thing I think of when I fall asleep at night and the first thing I think of when I wake up is you… Still your friend and I miss you passionately.” Thank you and I love you, ”we read.
The Lakers sacked Lynch on March 9, just days after this report.
Regina’s charges follow the recent reopening of a long-pending investigation.
According to a civil action brought by Lynch in 2000, the Saskatchewan RCMP began investigating him in 1997, after receiving an anonymous tip that Lynch had “had inappropriate sex” with a player nearly a decade earlier. .
Suspended from coaching
A parallel investigation was launched by the Regina Police Service in the fall and then expanded to examine allegations of Lynch’s conduct while coaching the Regina Pat Canadians, an AAA Midget Under-18 team, during the 1997-1998 season.
No charges were laid at the time, but Hockey Regina, the local governing body, suspended Lynch from his coaching duties for more than three years. He was reinstated after his 2000 civil lawsuit, on condition that he was not allowed to be alone with the players.
WATCH | Suspended for inappropriate messages:
Lynch, who previously held high profile jobs with the Humboldt Broncos and Regina Pats, returned to professional training in 2005, taking a job with the beavers at Minot State University in North Dakota.
Beginning in 2007, Lynch spent most of a decade coaching youth teams in Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Denmark.
Swedish newspaper Expressen recently published an article about the time the veteran coach spent behind the bench for a team in Huddinge, a suburb of Stockholm, a term that ended in controversy and complaints in 2014.
Lynch was fired after receiving a lengthy suspension for threatening a referee. But a parent told the newspaper there were other factors at play, including bullying behavior and unwanted and inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old.
“I found out that Bernie had started texting my son at night,” the mother, whose identity is protected by Expressen, told the newspaper. “I reacted immediately and asked why the coach was writing to him. Finally, I picked up his phone and checked the history. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
One post, in particular, raised concerns.
“Answer your phone … Pump leaking,” Lynch wrote, misspelling a Swedish word for masturbation. “I can hear you all the time here … Let him rest.”
The newspaper said it contacted Lynch about the allegations, but did not respond.