Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Coach groomed teen for sex

-- Man pleads guilty to four charges -- Girl's mother discovered relationship

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A respected south Winnipeg soccer coach has admitted to the ultimate breach of trust -- grooming one of his former players to have a sexual relationship with him.

Stephen Skavinsky, 52, pleaded guilty Monday to four charges including Internet luring, sexual interference, sexual exploitation and possession of child pornography. He will be sentenced later this year and remains free on bail.

Skavinsky was arrested in 2010 following an extensive police investigation that began with a complaint from a 14-year-old girl. Court documents obtained by the Free Press show the victim went to police and explained how she started confiding in her coach about ongoing personal problems when she was about 12. She said the first time he texted her was to say he'd "have a good time with her doing anything." They began exchanging texts a couple times a week, but the texts soon became more frequent.

"They would text before she went to school, after school, and before she went to bed. They would text up to 60 times a day," police wrote in an affidavit to obtain a search warrant. Police later seized a computer containing 1,600 sexually explicit images of child pornography from Skavinsky's home, court heard Monday.

Skavinsky began asking his player to call him at home, where they would have lengthy conversations about her life and other off-field issues. He began offering to drive her home after games and practices when her parents couldn't attend or had to leave early.

Police say Skavinsky made a detour to his house the first time he was driving her home. He brought her inside, then gave her a hug "for what felt like 10 or 15 minutes... it was tight and more than a normal hug," the girl told investigators. The coach then tried to hold the girl's hand when they returned to the car but she pulled away. On the second drive home, Skavinsky brought the girl inside, gave her another lengthy hug and then began massaging her back and "whispering things in her ear," say police. Once again, he tried to hold her hand in the car, this time with success.

On the third drive home, their interaction "got a lot more physical," according to police. Skavinsky began with a hug, then moved his hands under her shirt, eventually removing it. He also removed her shorts and underwear, moved her to a couch and had sexual intercourse. Police say there was a clear escalation following that incident, with Skavinsky repeatedly asking the teen to send pictures of herself.

Eventually he was reportedly requesting fully nude photos, which she complied with.

"He told her that if she didn't send the pictures, he wouldn't talk to her anymore," police wrote in court documents. Skavinsky began sending photos of himself, first in his underwear, then more graphic poses. Police say there were more than 100 explicit photos exchanged between the two.

The relationship was eventually exposed by the girl's mother, who found notes in her daughter's room professing her "love" for her coach. The woman also contacted MTS to get copies of all her daughter's outgoing texts to Skavinsky, which were forwarded to police.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2012 B1

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