Trevor Palmatier is shown in an undated photo posted on Facebook.

Former dive coach handed two-year conditional sentence for sex offences

A former Victoria man has been given a two-year conditional sentence for three sex-related charges involving one of his athletes.

A former Victoria man who was once an elite level diving coach has been given a two-year conditional sentence (house arrest) for three sex-related charges involving one of his athletes.

Last October, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Power found Trevor Palmatier guilty of sexually touching a young person while in a position of trust, inviting a young person to touch the body of a sex trade worker while in a position of trust and paying a minor for sexual services.

The offences took place between 2003 and 2006 when the 46-year-old was a coach with the Boardworks diving club at Saanich Commonwealth Place. The victim was 15.

At the sentencing hearing on Thursday, Power said Palmatier used his position of trust to extensively groom his victim, who was especially vulnerable since his family was having problems.

The court heard Palmatier initially had sexual conversations with the victim, then progressed to offering  money to perform sex acts in front of him. To prove he wasn’t gay, Palmatier hired a sex trade worker to perform sex acts in front of the victim.

The allegations didn’t surface until 2013 when Palmatier had already moved to Edmonton and started his own business, Big Dog Diving. He was taken into custody, marking the end of his diving coach career.

“Mr. Palmatier’s grooming of (the victim) was almost textbook,” said Power, adding the offences occurred more than 10 years ago and there’s no evidence of them being repeated since that time.

The Crown suggested Palmatier serve his sentence in a federal prison while defence counsel pushed the time be served in the community.

When giving her reasons for the sentence, Power noted a psychological report deemed Palmatier as a low to moderate risk to re offend. He is also willing to attend programs for sex offenders, even though he denies the offences ever took place.

Palmatier also has no criminal record and received many letters of support from people having a tough time believing he committed such a crime. His career as a diving coach has been ruined, added Power, with Palmatier permanently expelled from Diving Plongeon Canada or any other activity it sanctions in the country.

In a statement to the court, the now 27-year-old victim said Palmatier’s actions have had a devastating impact, robbing his ability to trust and focus on his life.

“I felt isolated and alone,” said the victim impact statement. “Mr. Palmatier turned me off diving, a sport I loved and I will never know how far I could have gone competitively.”

As part of his sentence, Palmatier must abide by a daily curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., attend programs for sex offenders and submit a DNA sample. He also can’t be in the company of anyone under the age of 18 without a guardian present or in public spaces where people under 18 frequent.

A three-year probation period will follow his conditional sentence.

Palmatier began his coaching career with the Vancouver Aquatic Centre Divers. In Victoria, he went on to coach divers at the international and Olympic level and was eventually named Diving Canada’s senior coach of the year and coach of the year by Sport British Columbia.