Climbing champion Stephen Mitchell accused of raping young climbers

Coach of world climbing champions arrested for child sex abuse after women alleged he groomed them for sex when they were young

  • Ex-champion climbing coach arrested on historic child sex charges
  • Mitchell has coached at the 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, has been charged with six child sex offenses after he was arrested at his Canberra home on Saturday night.

He is accused of grooming, trafficking and sexual conduct 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.

Stephen Mitchell (pictured) was arrested by AFP on Saturday night and charged with historic child sexual abuse

He has been the teams manager and coach for over 10 years and most recently chairman of the Australian Climbing Gyms Association.

Police were contacted by a woman who claimed to have been treated by Mitchell between 1994 and 1999.

Three other women then made similar allegations against Mitchell, which led to his arrest.

Junior world champion Libby Hall was one of several alleged victims of the 55-year-old after they met while training at the Australian Institute of Sport.

She believes her alleged abuse cost her a spot at the Tokyo Olympics last year, where rock climbing was first introduced.

“I can’t look back on climbing and see the success I’ve had,” she told the ABC.

“I look back and it’s traumatic and it hurts.”

The 55-year-old from Canberra has been charged with six offenses after he was arrested at his home on Saturday night

The 55-year-old from Canberra has been charged with six offenses after he was arrested at his home on Saturday night

Another woman, known as Gymnast A, said she regularly received letters from Mitchell after meeting at AIS, which included stickers and even a necklace engraved with the nickname he gave her. given.

“There is no doubt, when I look back on the evidence that I kept, that this is child grooming,” she said.

Gymnast A alleged that another AIS coach questioned 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 her, “You’re not allowed in the gym anymore,” she told the ABC.

Another woman, named Sophie Vivian, said Mitchell drove the AIS bus that took the children to school, sometimes waiting behind and talking to her for hours.

Mitchell was arrested by Operation Pyrite officers on Saturday evening.

He was charged with indecency and sexual conduct and ACT police said additional charges could be brought.

He will face the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday.

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Virginia F. Goins