Ex Kelowna gymnastics coach sentenced for child porn

Angelo Despotas was caught in a 2015 Canada-wide childporn investigation and sentenced Monday.

A former Kelowna gymnastics coach was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for making and possessing child pornography.

Suspicion about Angelo Despotas was raised during a 2015 Canada-wide child porn investigation.

When local Mounties went to his house with a warrant to look at his computer, they found video clips of children and teens he had coached naked from the waist down as they went to the washroom. They also found a backpack with a peephole for a small GoPro camera.

Further investigation of a computer they seized showed 2,000-plus thumbnail images of child porn, involving everything from the videos he’d taken in the washroom of the gym he’d been working at, to images of toddlers being violated and raped by adults.

Little has been heard of Despotas, who Crown counsel referred to as a revered trainer of athletes, since his arrest.

He addressed his victims on Monday.

“Since my arrest over two years ago, what’s troubled and haunted me the most was my inability to apologize to those affected by my actions,” said Despotas, who in June pleaded guilty to two child pornography charges.

“I also understand that any attempt at an explanation or any apologies would seem futile … the crime (is a) gross intrusion and invasion of personal privacy. My actions were inexcusable. I wish to express my deepest regrets and my most sincere apologies.”

The apology drew gasps and sobs from the 40 people — former students and parents— who gathered in court for Despotas’ sentencing.

Victim impact statements read aloud elicited a similar reaction.

One woman explained that the actions of Despotas had robbed her children of their innocence.

“You not only took away their ability to trust, you took time away from their lives,” she said.

“We don’t talk about those days, we don’t bring them up. The pain you caused is so much more … the betrayal, the humility, the nightmares the tears, the long days of sadness.”

She said that Despotas left scars on her family, but they are moving on.

“You took away their innocent ability to trust and you took mine,” she said. “Life is short, and my family has spent too many years being hurt by you. I hope this is the last time I see you, the last time I talk to you.”

The sentence is broken down to 14 months for making pornography and 10 months for possessing it. He will be on probation for three years.

He is also subject to a 20 year prohibition from being near daycares, school grounds and community centres. He can’t seek to obtain employment in a capacity of being in a position of trust with person under the age of 16.

The total sentence is six months more than the mandatory minimum for the crimes listed. Despotas has no previous dealings with the courts.

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