Olympic and national-level coach Trevor Palmatier, 43, is charged with two counts of sexual exploitation and one count of procuring the sexual services of a person under 18 for incidents between 2004 and 2006 involving a teenaged boy.
Saanich detectives believe Palmatier developed close personal relationships with his athletes while running a diving club in Victoria, B.C.
Since opening the investigation in early March, two complainants have come forward, the information from one resulting in the charges, said police.
Palmatier coached at the Boardworks diving club at the Saanich Commonwealth Place for about 10 years until 2007 when he moved to Edmonton, where he coaches at the Edmonton Diving Academy through his personal business called Big Dog Diving.
He has coached numerous junior stars who have won national and international medals, according to the Edmonton Diving Academy website. Palmatier was once named Diving Canada's senior coach of the year.
The allegations have shocked some in the Edmonton diving community.
“He was a charismatic person,” said area coach Herb Flewelling, who worked with Palmatier.
“Certainly there's no hint that I would have thought he was doing something illegal...he was a good coach — he was one of our top coaches.”
Palmatier has been suspended: Diving Canada
Diving Canada issued a release Thursday following news of Palmatier’s arrest.
“We are deeply concerned by the news that Trevor Palmatier, a coach with the Big Dog Diving Club in Edmonton, has been arrested by police and charged with three criminal offences,” it reads.
“We can confirm that Mr. Palmatier has been suspended from all diving-related activities since early March when a former athlete brought forward a complaint.”
The organization also states that a disciplinary committee was appointed the day after the original complaint was made in March, which has now been suspended “pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.”
Diving Canada says it will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will be providing support to those affected within the diving community.
Local investigation underway
Flewelling says up to 2,000 youths participate in the diving program at Kinsmen Pool — one of the two pools where Palmatier coached — every year.
Given the number of current and prospective diving students who may have been in contact with Palmatier, as well as the close relationships that can develop between high-level athletes and their coaches, Edmonton police say they are concerned there may be other local victims.
“It's always concerning because these individuals are in a position of authority and trust,” said Det. Nicole Chapdelaine of the city’s child protection section.
“They're working with kids who... at his level of coaching... really depend on whether or not they want to go far with their career,” she said. “So [coaches] can have a lot of influence over these kids [and that] is concerning.”
Police are now urging anyone who may have been a victim to call them.
Palmatier will be transported to Saanich, B.C.