Winnipeg police charge former hockey coach in historical sexual assault cases

Police say a Winnipeg man is facing almost a dozen charges related to sexual assaults alleged to have occurred more than 25 years ago.

Police said Thursday the sex crimes unit was contacted earlier this summer by two complainants who said that they had been sexually assaulted by a male hockey coach while they were young teens.

The assaults are alleged to have occurred between 1993 and 1995 while the complainants were playing in the Assiniboine Park Hockey Association.

Const. Dani McKinnon of the Winnipeg Police Service said there were multiple alleged assaults against each complainant.

The two complainants alleged they were separately invited to the accused's home where they were provided money and alcohol and were then sexually assaulted. They also told police the assaults had been photographed and videotaped.

McKinnon said the complainants came forward separately.

"When you look at the time frame it is likely that they knew each other, but it is my understanding that they did come forward independently," she said.

McKinnon said investigating historical cases requires a lot of time and resources from officers and those who come forward.

"These types of cases are extremely sensitive. They're very nuanced. They're very personal and private," she said. "Just the fact that they did come forward when they did is quite remarkable."

She added the investigation continues, but wouldn't say whether officers believe there are other alleged victims.

Robert Donald Joseph Dawson, 57, faces charges that include sexual assault, sexual exploitation and forcible confinement. He is also charged with multiple child pornography offences.

Hockey Winnipeg, the organization that oversees the Assiniboine Park Hockey Association, said it was notified Thursday about the charges.

"These charges are extremely serious and very troubling to the volunteers, members and staff of Hockey Winnipeg," executive director Ian McArton said in a statement.

"On behalf of Hockey Winnipeg's executive we are hopeful that justice is served in this case."

Dawson's involvement with the program dates back nearly 30 years ago, said McArton. There are no current staff or executive members of Hockey Winnipeg or association board members who have interacted with the accused, he added.

Hockey Winnipeg ensures volunteers are checked against the child abuse registry and that there is a way for anonymous claims to be made, he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2021.