Edmonton police arrest diving coach on sex-related charges

By: Alex Migdal, The Canadian Press, May 9, 2013

EDMONTON - A national diving organization says a prominent coach arrested this week on sex-related charges has been suspended from all diving-related activities since March.

Trevor Palmatier, 43, is accused of two counts of sexual exploitation and of procuring, charges that Diving Canada called "very unsettling."

"The charges, which have yet to be proven in court, remind us of the paramount importance of ensuring the well-being of our athletes," the organization said in a statement released Thursday. "Nothing is more important and we take very seriously the responsibility of their safety and protection while in our care."

Edmonton police said Palmatier was arrested Wednesday on warrants issued by the Saanich Police Department in British Columbia.

Palmatier coached on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver before moving to Edmonton. The Edmonton Diving Academy's website says Palmatier coached Blythe Hartley, former world champion and Commonwealth Games gold-medal winner, in the mid-2000s and more recently coached 2012 Olympic diver Eric Sehn.

Saanich police allege that Palmatier had sexual contact with a teenage, male diving athlete in Victoria between 2004 and 2006.

Edmonton police Det. Nicole Chapdelaine said Saanich police approached Edmonton police in March after a teenage male came forward with allegations.

"Our involvement was just to identify where he was at in the city and affect the arrest on him and get him remanded so he can speak back on the charges," she said.

Diving Canada appointed a discipline committee the day after the complaint was filed, the statement says. The committee issued an interim suspension that same day. The review is on hold pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Saanich police say a second teenage male has come forward with allegations, but no charges have been laid in that case. No one in Edmonton has come forward with information, police said.

Diving Canada said it will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Palmatier has worked as a diving coach in the Edmonton area since 2008. He owns the Edmonton Diving Company, which operates under the name Big Dog Diving.

"It's always concerning because these individuals are in a position of authority and trust and they're working with kids who really depend on them for whether or not they want to go far with their career," Chapdelaine said.

Palmatier was previously employed as a diving coach with the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. He then coached for 10 years at the Boardworks Diving program at Saanich Commonwealth Place in the Victoria area until 2007.

Boardworks Diving's head coach, Tommy McLeod, said he worked with Palmatier when Palmatier was the head coach between 1996 and 2007.

Palmatier coached groups of about seven divers whose ages ranged from seven to 19, McLeod said. Most of Palmatier's students were between 12 and 15 years old.

"He would see them every day for three to five hours a day," McLeod said, adding he wasn't sure whether Palmatier spent time with students outside of training.

"The majority of our divers are pretty young, and a whole bunch of them weren't here when Trevor was here. They don't even know who the heck this guy is. He's just one of the many other coaches you see on the deck at a diving meet."

McLeod said Palmatier's departure in 2007 was dictated by the board, but wouldn't elaborate.

The last time he spoke with Palmatier was in March, the same month the allegations surfaced.

Police said they expect Palmatier will be returned to Victoria within a week to face the charges.