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Guilty plea: Volunteer curling coach in New West admits to sexual interference against youth

New Westminster police launched investigation after 11-year-old girl shared details about an encounter with curling coach
Guilty plea: A former volunteer curling coach in the New West and Vancouver area has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual interference. photo The Record

A former volunteer curling coach has pleaded guilty to sexual interference against young victims.

In May 2021, the New Westminster Police Department’s Major Crime Unit launched an investigation into sex-related offences against youth victims. At that time, a volunteer coach who had forged connections with families through curling was charged in connection to sexual offences involving an 11-year-old girl – and police asked any other potential victims to come forward.

In a June 2023 update, the police department said its Major Crime Unit investigators had identified a total of three victims who were allegedly exploited by the same person.

On June 6, Marcio Leite Cerquinho pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual interference. He will be sentenced in November 2023.

“The New Westminster Police Department Victim Assistance Unit is always available to those who come forward to tell their story,” said Sgt. Andrew Leaver, the NWPD’s media relations officer. “We take sexual offence investigations extremely seriously and we will leave no stone un-turned to ensure that suspects who engage in these types of crimes are held to account before our justice system.”

After being charged in May 2021, a judge released the accused with a number of strict conditions, including having no access to any youths under the age of 16, having no contact with the victim and family members and reporting to a bail supervisor.

In May 2021, the New Westminster Police Department told the Record the charges against the New West resident related to sexual offences against a young victim that had allegedly occurred on May 14 in New Westminster.

“The victim, who went to her mother to initially report the incident, advised that she was touched inappropriately by the accused and that she was forced to touch him,” Sgt. Sanjay Kumar said at the time. “During this time, she was quite uncomfortable and quite scared. When she went home, she immediately relayed this information to her mother, who then brought it forward to our investigators.”

Kumar said the accused was a volunteer coach with curling clubs in the New Westminster and Vancouver area.

“It’s believed that there is an association with curling, that he had access to these victims,” he said. “It’s believed that during this time he had made bonds and relationships with these families that allowed him to have unsupervised access to these youths.”

Kumar said the suspect was not known to police prior to the May 2021 incident.