Trial continues for ex-Edmonton track coach accused of sexually abusing athletes

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Warning: this story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

A third former track athlete has told an Edmonton court about the time his former coach allegedly molested him.

The trial of Thomas Kenneth Porter entered its third day Wednesday with testimony from a 62-year-old teacher who claims the one-time track and field coach sexually touched him at a party in the late 1970s.

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Porter, 75, is charged with 14 counts involving five former athletes who say he sexually abused them when he coached in Edmonton more than 40 years ago. Porter has pleaded not guilty.

Two of the men have already testified, including Chris Dallin, who alleges Porter performed oral sex on him while he slept before a track meet in Saskatoon.

The name of the complainant who testified Wednesday is covered by a publication ban. He said he was in his mid-teens when he and several other young athletes attended a party at Porter’s apartment south of the High Level Bridge.

“At one point Ken offered to give us all … ‘rubdowns.’ Basically a massage,” he recalled. “We would get these all the time at the end of track sessions, on our legs.”

Usually, he looked forward to the massages. This time, however, was different.

The former sprinter claimed Porter suggested the boys take turns receiving massages in a private room. He also suggested they put on thongs he provided to prevent baby powder from getting on their underwear, the man claimed.

He said this came after Porter showed the boys pornographic magazines he acquired in Europe.

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“It seemed a little weird,” the complainant said. But he complied, thinking his coach knew best.

He claims that during the massage, Porter touched him sexually on his buttocks multiple times. He said he has no doubt the touching was intentional. 

ken porter
Ken Porter when he was president of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club. Photo by File Photo /Postmedia

The complainant said he discussed what happened with another partygoer on the drive home.

Porter also invited him and a friend to see The Tin Drum, a 1979 German film banned in some jurisdictions for sexual content involving children, he claimed.

Porter coached sprinters with the Edmonton Olympic Track and Field Club in the late 1970s to early 1980s. He later travelled to Australia, where he held a position with the Commonwealth Games. He now lives in Ottawa, where he ran the Ottawa Lions track club until an investigation by Athletics Canada led to his firing.

Solomon Friedman, Porter’s lawyer, spent Wednesday afternoon cross-examining the third complainant. Friedman noted in previous statements to investigators the alleged victim said Porter touched him “almost over” his anal area, instead of directly touching him there.

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The complainant accused the lawyer of “splitting hairs” and maintained Porter did in fact directly touch the body part.

While he doesn’t believe the experience left him with lasting trauma like other complainants, he said the memory still affects him.

“When I was contacted (by investigators) and I started to think about the incident again as a father — and I’m a teacher — I’m outraged by it,” he said. “That this would happen to me, that I could be taken advantage of by someone I trusted.”

The trial is being heard by Court of King’s Bench Justice Nicholas Devlin without a jury. It is scheduled to continue through June 28.

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