Tillman gets absolute discharge in sex assault case
REGINA - The general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has been granted an absolute discharge after admitting to sexually assaulting a teenage girl.
Judge Murray Hinds said he believed Eric Tillman was "genuinely remorseful" and his behaviour was "an aberration" fuelled by a bad combination of non-prescription drugs he took for a sore back.
Hinds said he's satisfied that Tillman, who is 52, has learned the consequences of mixing drugs.
The discharge means Tillman is considered guilty of the offence, but will not have a criminal record, and will not have to meet any conditions during a probationary period.
Tillman pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl who was babysitting his two children in the summer of 2008.
Court heard he came up behind the teen, put his thumbs through her belt loops and pulled her body against his, although Tillman has said he doesn't remember anything.
Defence lawyer Aaron Fox said his client wasn't thinking clearly because he had taken a double dose of sleep aids and pain medication.
The Crown did not oppose a discharge of some kind.
Rider president Jim Hopson has asked that a special meeting of the board of directors be held "as soon as reasonably possible." The Riders and Tillman have agreed that he won't have any day-to-day responsibilities with the CFL club for now.
An emotional Tillman told court Monday that he was "profoundly sorry" for hurting the team, his family and the entire Roughrider organization.
Court heard Tillman was supposed to be at a board meeting Aug. 6, 2008, but he was encouraged to go home by staff who thought he was "acting in an unusual manner."
Tillman joined the teen and his children at home. The girl bent over as she fed one of the kids, said Crown prosecutor Bill Burge.
"When she stood up, the accused put his hands on her hips with his fingers in her belt loops and he pulled the rear end of the complainant into himself," said Burge. "While in that position there was physical contact that was clearly of a sexual nature.
"This occurred without the consent of the complainant and she told the accused, 'No."'
Fox told court employees at the Rider office described him as being "loopy" and "definitely not himself and not with it," the day of the encounter.
Tillman said in his apology that his behaviour would not have happened "in a hundred million years had I not put myself in a position to be on medication."
The teen did not make a victim impact statement, but Burge said she accepts Tillman's apology.
Tillman, who helped lead the Riders to the Grey Cup championship in 2007, has been on paid administrative leave since being charged early last year.
Tillman has enjoyed great success in the CFL as a general manager. He led the B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts to Grey Cup titles in 1994 and 1997, respectively, and has worked as a television analyst with TSN and Sportsnet.
Tillman also served as the general manager of the expansion Ottawa Renegades for three seasons before returning to broadcasting and ultimately landing the post with the Riders.