John William Henry

Former Langley gymnastics coach gets six years for sex abuse of boys

An ex-gymnastics instructor sentenced for sexual abuse of boys in Langley.

  • Aug. 18, 2015 3:00 p.m.

by JENNIFER SALTMAN

Special to the Langley Advance

A former Langley gymnastics instructor who sexually abused nine boys from the gym where he worked has been given a six-year prison sentence.

John William Henry, 33, pleaded guilty to nine counts of sexual assault and one count of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced on Tuesday in provincial court in Surrey.

A former Langley gymnastics instructor who sexually abused nine boys from the gym where he worked has been given a six-year prison sentence.

John William Henry, 33, pleaded guilty to nine counts of sexual assault and one count of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced Tuesday in provincial court in Surrey.

The incidents took place over a 10-month period and involved boys between the ages of eight and 12 years old. Henry was an instructor at the Langley Gymnastics Foundation at the time.

Henry routinely touched the boys’ genitals and buttocks through their clothing as they stretched and moved between stations at the gym.

He talked about genitalia and kissed some boys. He exposed himself to some boys in the locker-room and asked two of them to touch his penis. He put one boy’s penis in his mouth for a few seconds.

At a summer gymnastics camp, Henry looked at and touched boys while they slept and changed into swim shorts in front of them.

Henry told the boys he abused not to tell their parents because he could go to jail or lose his job. He asked some of the boys if he should stop, and although they said yes he kept touching them.

The assaults came to light in March 2014 after an eight-year-old boy disclosed to his parents what had happened. They went to police and Henry was arrested.

He made voluntary statements to police, admitting that he had touched the boy and others about whom police knew nothing.

Henry also told police about child pornography that he had on a micro SD card hidden between the mattress and frame of his bed at the Abbotsford home he shared with his parents.

Henry was immediately suspended from Langley Gymnastics and Gymnastics B.C., and Langley Gymnastics Foundation reviewed and reinforced its policies and procedures around child safety.

Henry has been in custody since his arrest in March 2014, having not sought bail.

Judge Jennifer Oulton said seven people submitted victim-impact statements that were thoughtful, sorrowful and angry, and outlined how Henry betrayed their trust and stole and exploited the innocence of the boys he abused.

The short-term effects of Henry’s actions include increased anxiety, caution and mistrust for each victim and his family. The long-term effects are still not known.

“That is a burden that the boys and their families will carry into the future,” Oulton said.

Oulton said Henry has not tried to deny or minimize his crimes and has expressed genuine remorse. He is willing to participate in programming.

“He does acknowledge he has caused incalculable harm to these boys,” Oulton said.

Henry told the writer of a psychological report that he is not a pedophile, but homosexual pedophiliac predilections are present.

Oulton said that based on the frequency and nature of the crimes, number of victims, compulsion and motive, Henry should receive sex offender treatment as if he is a pedophile.

Henry is considered a high-moderate risk for sexual recidivism.

Crown and defence jointly sought a six-year sentence, and Oulton said that considering all of the sentencing principles and materials presented, it is a fit sentence.

Henry was given credit for nearly 26 months of time in custody, leaving just under four years in his sentence. When he is released from prison, he will be subject to a number of conditions limiting his contact with people under the age of 16.

– Jennifer Saltman is a Vancouver Province reporter.

For more from the Vancouver Province, click HERE.

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