Canada
Former Calgary coach found guilty of sex charges

Kelsea Joy Hepburn (C) hides from media and is shielded by supporters as she leaves the Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alberta February 15, 2013

Credits: JIM WELLS/QMI AGENCY

NADIA MOHARIB | QMI AGENCY

CALGARY - She ran and hid when a teen's mother found the pair with their pants down -- interrupting an apparent romantic moment.

Friday, when a jury found former ringette coach Kelsea Joy Hepburn guilty of sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching, she ran from court surrounded by a posse of supporters who shielded her from view before jumping into a waiting SUV.

The jury didn't buy Hepburn's testimony that sexually-laden texts and four incidents, which included kissing and hand-holding, were nothing more than bad judgment.

Instead the four-man, eight-woman jury found there was evidence Hepburn's interactions with the 13-year-old girl, including late night phone calls and a "date" to a hockey game after ringette season, were criminal.

When the verdict was read into court, Hepburn and numerous supporters including her parents broke into tears.

Parents of the teen, who cannot be named, declined to comment while their daughter, who testified earlier in the trial, was not present Friday.

Taking the stand in her own defence earlier in the week, Hepburn admitted she found the teen "pretty" but said there was "mutual manipulation."

Hepburn testified the day they were caught in the basement of the teen's home after a kiss and dropping their pants, she knew it was wrong and said they had to stop from proceeding further.

Court heard that's when the teen's mother came in, prompting Hepburn to run and hide between a wall and furnace.

"I made a poor decision, I'm not a bad person," Hepburn told court during the trial.

Court also heard in the trial the relationship between the pair involved Hepburn giving the teen a promise ring and a series of sexy texts between the two.

While court heard Hepburn claim the teen was infatuated with her, the young girl testified she loved the woman now convicted of exploiting her.

Hepburn told court the sexually explicit text banter was simply "fantasy conversation."
Crown Vicki Faulkner, however, dismissed Hepburn's claims the dirty texts were only fantasy.

Telling court "this was an adult and a child," Faulkner also said the fact the relationship went on for months contradicts Hepburn's claims she was trying to distance herself from the teen.

Hepburn nor her lawyer, Maureen McConaghy, commented on the verdict.

A sentencing date has yet to be set.

The minimum sentence for a conviction on each charge is 45 days behind bars.

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