Coach of world champion rock climbers is arrested on child sexual abuse charges after women alleged he groomed them for sex when they were youngsters
- Former champion rock climbing coach arrested on historic child sex charges
- Mitchell coached at Australian Institute of Sport and junior rock climbing teams
- Several women contacted ACT Police about his alleged sexual abuse
A former world champion rock climbing coach is accused of sexually abusing children involved in the sport for a decade.
Stephen Mitchell, 55, was charged with six child sex after being arrested at his home in Canberra on Saturday night.
He is accused of grooming, trafficking and sex with children who were part of the sport.
Mitchell is a decorated coach who oversaw the junior and world champion teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The ABC have reported Stephen Mitchell (pictured) was arrested by the AFP on Saturday night and charged with historic child sexual assault charges
He was the manager and coach of the teams for more than 10 years and more recently the president of the Australian Climbing Gyms Association.
Police were contacted by a woman who alleged she had been groomed by Mitchell between 1994 and 1999.
Three other women then came forward with similar allegations against Mitchell, which led to his arrest.
Libby Hall, a junior world champion, was one of several alleged victims of the 55-year-old after meeting while training at the Australian Institute of Sport.
She believes his alleged abuse cost her a place at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, where rock climbing was introduced for the first time.
‘I don’t get to look back at climbing and see the success that I had,’ she told the ABC.
‘I look back and it’s traumatic and it hurts.’
The 55-year-old man from Canberra was charged with six offenses after being arrested at his home on Saturday night
Another woman, known as Gymnast A, said she regularly received letters from Mitchell after meeting at the AIS, which included stickers and even an engraved necklace with the nickname he gave her.
‘There is no doubt when I look back at the evidence that I’ve kept that it’s child grooming,’ she said.
Gymnast An alleged another coach at the AIS quizzed her about her relationship with Mitchell as he regularly watched from the viewing gallery, before the coach confronted the alleged paedophile.
‘[The coach] effectively told him, “You’re not allowed to come into the gym again”,’ she told the ABC.
Another woman, named Sophie Vivian, said Mitchell drove the AIS bus that took children to and from school, sometimes waiting behind and talking to her for hours.
Mitchell was arrested by officers from Operation Pyrite on Saturday night.
He has been charged with indecency and sexual conduct and ACT Police said additional charges could be laid.
He will face ACT Magistrates Court on Monday.