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Dave Brubaker, ex-Canadian gymnastics coach, acquitted of sex-related charges

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Former Canadian Olympic women’s gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker was found not guilty today of two sex assault charges levelled by a former athlete.

Brubaker had pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation relating to the alleged incidents between 2000 and 2007.

Justice Deborah Austin, in delivering her verdict inside a Sarnia, Ont., courtroom, gave a scathing critique of how the lead officer handled the investigation.

The judge wondered about the “tainting of evidence” after explaining a scenario by which a police officer shared a written Brubaker apology with the complainant and others.

Justice Austin also made it clear in her analysis that there are serious problems with the lead officer and complainant having a familiar relationship, and the fact it was disclosed late in the trial.

Gymnastics Canada launching internal probe

In a statement, Gymnastics Canada announced it would conduct an internal investigation on the matter in accordance with its Code of Ethics and Conduct and Discipline policies.
 
“Gymnastics Canada acknowledges, understands, and remains committed to our responsibility in creating and preserving gymnastics environments that ensure positive, healthy, and fulfilling experiences for all of our participants,” read the statement. “Together with our provincial and territorial partners and member clubs, we are continuing to implement a safe sport framework for gymnastics across the country.

“This framework includes tools to assist parents and other responsible adults to identify potentially unsafe situations and take proactive steps to ensure the safety of the athletes; providing confidential channels for athletes to communicate concerns with respect to their safety and well-being without risk of reprisals; and utilizing the appropriate enforcement mechanisms for addressing individuals who breach safe sport policies.
 
“We remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that inappropriate and harmful conduct is dealt with immediately and effectively. Gymnastics Canada considers the safety and well-being of all participants as our top priority.”

Complainant initiated kisses, Brubaker said

In the case involving Brubaker, the national women’s coach at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the complainant told the court that from the time she was 12, he would commonly greet her with a kiss on the lips.

Brubaker didn’t deny this.

“I think it was just out of habit … that she started to kiss me,” Brubaker said, insisting the kisses were innocent. “I don’t come from a kissy family, so to me it’s just part of the gymnast culture. It’s not something I need as a man.”

Brubaker told the court the complainant initiated the kisses after a competition in Europe.

Brubaker’s wife Liz, who worked alongside her husband, testified she found nothing odd about the kisses, but acknowledged her husband kissed other students only on the cheek.

Brubaker’s wife suspended

Last month, Gymnastics Canada suspended Liz Brubaker, who isn’t facing criminal charges, from her coaching job with the Bluewater Gymnastics Club in Sarnia.

In a statement, Gymnastics Canada said it suspended Elizabeth Brubaker after receiving “a number of written formal complaints… that outlined alleged violations of Gymnastics Canada’s ethics and code of conduct policies over an extended period of time a number of years ago.”

The complainant, now in her 30s, cannot be named under a publication ban. She also alleged that Dave Brubaker touched her inappropriately while treating her for persistent pain and soreness.

Brubaker, the women’s national team director at the last year’s world championships in Montreal, also vehemently denied this. But at the same time, an expert witness told the court that treatment, often in sensitive areas, is an integral and necessary part of maintaining the body of an elite gymnast.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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