Former golf pro sentenced 3 1/2 years for sexually abusing teenager he coached in the 1990s

GODERICH — A woman in the courtroom sobbed as police led Cameron Doig away after a judge sentenced the former golf pro to 3 1/2 years in jail Friday.

The young woman, who sat with Doig's family in the gallery, cried out to say goodbye as the officers walked the 63-year-old out of the Huron County courthouse.

"Just for two minutes," she shouted, her request unanswered.

Minutes earlier, Superior Court Justice Pamela Hebner sentenced Doig, a former golf pro and instructor, for sexually abusing a teen girl he coached in the 1990s. A jury last month found him guilty of sexual assault, sexual interference and two counts of sexual exploitation after the woman, now 40, testified Doig regularly touched and propositioned her when she was learning the game and working at his family-owned Seaforth Golf and Country Club between 1995 and 1998.

Doig, well-known in the region for his involvement in the sport, denied all the allegations.

Assistant Crown attorney Andrew Shatto had asked for a four- to five-year prison sentence, while defence lawyer Andy Rady argued for a shorter sentence — two years less a day in jail, to be served conditionally in the community with a large portion of house arrest — because the offences happened in the 1990s.

After weighing both recommendations, Hebner sentenced Doig to 3 ½ years in prison, saying the range must be tempered by "a positive" pre-sentence report and 45 pages of reference letters. Doig is prohibited from attending public spaces, such as pools, parks and community centres, where someone younger than 16 may be present, and from employment or volunteer opportunities in a position of authority or trust to persons younger than 16 for 10 years. Doig also is banned from contacting the victim or being within a two-kilometre range of the victim.

During the trial, the court heard the woman, whose identity is protected by a court order, was a teen with a promising future in the sport. She described how her life has changed since then. Her school grades and relationships suffered, she turned down a golf scholarship in the United States, and put down the golf clubs for more than a decade. The woman was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, insomnia and high blood pressure, and has been in therapy for "eight years and counting," the court heard.

"(Doig's) actions have had a devastating effect" on the victim and family, Hebner said Friday.

Before the sentencing began, defence lawyer Rady asked the decision be adjourned to a later date so Doig could winterize his family-owned golf course and attend the season's final tournament. The court was not notified of the request until 4:59 p.m. on Thursday, the judge said, adding the date had been set for several weeks, and attendees in the gallery travelled from afar to be at the courthouse.

"By delaying the process today, it causes further trauma and further harm to the victim," who has waited months to see the trail completed and "see her perpetrator (be) held accountable and sentenced," acting Crown attorney Laura Grant told the judge, who denied the request to postpone.

Outside the courthouse, after the sentencing, the victim said she was pleased by the judge's sentence, adding it was "very fair."

She also thanked the community for supporting her through the trial. "This process was hard and re-traumatizing, but I think having that support, with everyone here, it just makes you feel a little bit stronger," she said.

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press