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Gymnastics coach in Ottawa and Kingston pleads guilty to sex crimes against minors

Ottawa police
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A gymnastics coach accused of sexually assaulting underage girls in Ottawa and Kingston has pleaded guilty to sex crimes and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Benjamin Cooper, of Toronto, was arrested in February following an eight month-investigation launched last year. The offences occurred between 2014 and 2022 involving seven girls between the ages of 14 and 17.

Cooper pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of sexual assault, one count of assault and one count of possessing child pornography at an Ottawa courtroom.

In addition to a jail sentence, he will have to register as a sex offender, must provide his DNA, has a lifetime firearms prohibition and is prevented from accessing, working or volunteering with the victims.

Victim impact statements by many of the girls were all read out in the courtroom. The identities of the victims are protected by a publication ban.

Cooper, who was 27 at the time of his arrest, had been facing 19 counts relating to sexual assault, child pornography and sexual exploitation when he was taken into custody in February.

Gymnastics Ontario said it launched an investigation into Cooper in April 2022 after receiving complaints about the coach, and he was placed on an interim suspension. Cooper was employed at a Kingston and Ottawa region gymnastics club from 2014 to 2021.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle

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