Warning: This story contains details of an alleged sexual assault.
A former youth hockey coach accused of sexual assault against a 17-year-old boy in 1988 has denied that the alleged incidents took place.
Bernard “Bernie” Lynch has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and sexual battery.
The trial is being held at the Court of King’s Bench in Regina.
Lynch, 69, coached hockey in North America and Europe for 47 years. Lynch was the subject of a Breaking: investigation in 2021, in which parents and players alleged abusive behavior.
The plaintiff in the current case testified Tuesday that he was 17 years old when Lynch sexually assaulted him in a shower at Lynch’s home.
At that time, the complainant was participating in a Regina Pats hockey school that ran from August 7 to August 12, 1988. At that time, Lynch was the assistant coach of the Pats.
Any information that could identify the complainant or his then-girlfriend, who testified earlier Thursday, is protected by a publication ban granted by Judge Peter T. Bergbusch.
Lynch denies assault
Lynch took the stand Thursday afternoon to testify in his own defense. He was the only witness called in the defense case.
The former youth hockey coach confirmed that he had invited the complainant to the hockey school and that he believed him to be a very skilled young hockey player.
The complainant had previously said it was his understanding that he would stay with Lynch the night he arrived, August 7, before moving to a hotel for the second night.
Lynch said he never told the plaintiff that he was going to stay at Lynch’s appointment.
During his testimony, Lynch also denied ever participating in the Pats’ Hockey School in 1988, despite his participation in the camp being advertised on a poster posted on The position of leader that summer.
Instead, Lynch said he was training at a Hockey Canada tournament in Calgary between Aug. 12-20.
Lynch testified that the plaintiff was mistaken and actually arrived in Regina on August 5, 1988. Lynch said he knew this because Lynch flew from Regina to Calgary on August 6, 1988. As evidence, the defense provided a photograph of the Lynch team . he was training. Lynch identified himself in the photo.
Lynch became visibly frustrated several times during questioning by lead Crown prosecutor Chris White. Lynch became enraged when asked about the date he flew, his role in the clinic and his denial of the alleged assault.
At one point he even shouted that the whistleblower’s testimony “was not a true portrayal of Bernie Lynch. I wouldn’t do that.”
The complainant said that while he was at Lynch’s apartment, he was offered beer and, despite refusing several times, was eventually pressured to drink.
The complainant said Lynch encouraged him to undress and walk in front of the apartment’s patio door, and that he eventually did so.
Under questioning by White, the author testified that he later attempted to sober up by taking a shower.
The complainant said he believed the bathroom door was locked, but that Lynch eventually joined him in the shower.
The complainant testified that he did not want any romantic or sexual relationship with Lynch and that he had not invited Lynch to join him in the shower.
The junior hockey coach then grabbed the teen’s penis, the complainant said. He testified that he repeatedly said no, but that Lynch continued to touch him. Lynch then told the teen they should masturbate together, the complainant testified. He also said Lynch grabbed his hand and placed it on his genitals.
The complainant said he agreed to masturbate Lynch after being told that if he did, it would be the end.
“I felt intimidated, scared,” the complainant testified. “He is a coach, an authority figure. He is telling me to do what I am told.”
The next day at hockey camp, Lynch joked around and physically touched the teen, the complainant testified. This included hitting the perpetrator on the buttocks, hitting him on the genitals with his keychain and punching him on the shoulder.
The plaintiff said Tuesday that he felt obligated to remain silent because of hockey’s unwritten code that dictates that whatever happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room. He said he thought going public would negatively affect his career as a professional hockey player.
On the stand, Lynch denied all of the complainant’s testimony, saying that didn’t happen and that he was dropped off at a hotel the night of the alleged assault instead of staying at his home.
Lynch said he did not see the complainant again until he took the stand earlier this week.
Lynch said he was fired from the Pats in 1989 as a result of the team’s failure to make the playoffs, as well as rumors of the alleged assault, which he denied.
The complainant went to the police approximately 30 years after the alleged assault. He said he only did so once news emerged about the RCMP’s investigation of Lynch and his return to training.
The complainant’s ex-girlfriend testifies
White called his second and final witness, a woman who was the complainant’s girlfriend in 1988, early Thursday.
The woman testified that she and the complainant dated for approximately six months in 1988.
She said she and the complainant are no longer close, but that as a teenager, he was fun-loving and motivated to succeed and become a professional hockey player.
He said the complainant did not drink and was close to his friends.
The woman, who testified remotely, said the complainant was very excited about attending the Regina Pats hockey school.
However, he said his behavior changed after he returned from camp.
“It was very different. It was very clingy and needed reinforcement,” he said.
“He wasn’t the same kind of happy, uplifting person. There was a cloud around him.”
The woman said the complainant told her he was no longer interested in pursuing hockey professionally. She said she didn’t understand the change for a long time, but she finally got the complainant to open up and tell him about the incident. She would later inform the author’s parents of what happened.
The woman did not testify about what she was told specifically.
White closed his case after the woman’s brief testimony.
The trial is scheduled to continue until Friday. Closing arguments are expected to begin Friday morning.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access local crisis lines and support services through this government of canada website or the Partnership to End Violence Canada Database. If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety or the safety of others around you, call 911.