A PERTH volleyball coach who had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl under his authority and “fell in love” with her has avoided going to prison in Western Australia.
The 39-year-old man, who cannot be named, admitted his behaviour was morally wrong but claimed he did not know his actions were criminal.
He pleaded guilty to 11 child sex offences, including sexual penetration, committed over four days.
The WA District Court heard the girl was his daughter’s friend and a member of his volleyball team, and he offered her one-on-one training after the 2018 season ended.
But following “progressive flirtatious texting”, they began a sexual relationship.
The court heard the pair had discussed the futility of their relationship due to the age difference and the fact he had a family.
The relationship came to an end when the girl’s family became aware.
In an apology to his wife, the man said: “I tried to save someone’s life and I fell in love.”
Judge Stephen Scott noted it was not a case of an older man grooming a teenager and taking advantage of her vulnerability for his own sexual gratification.
Rather, it was a mutual and genuine relationship, he said.
While ignorance of the law was not a defence, it did go towards the man’s moral culpability, the judge added.
Judge Scott also accepted the man was genuinely remorseful and had sought the help of a psychologist.
He also acknowledged the girl had not suffered adverse effects and in fact approached the relationship with a degree of maturity.
The man was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months.