Ex-Lions GM gets absolute discharge for sex assault
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, January 5, 2010 10:20AM PST
The former general manager of the BC Lions and current GM of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has been granted an absolute discharge after admitting to sexually assaulting a teenage girl.
Judge Murray Hinds said he believed Eric Tillman was sorry for his behaviour in the summer of 2008. Tillman pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl who was babysitting his two children.
"In this case there's no suggestion that Mr. Tillman is not generally of good character," Hinds said Tuesday.
"He has no prior criminal record. His behaviour towards (the teenage girl) on Aug. 6 appears to be an aberration fuelled by his consumption of two non-prescription drugs which he used for sleep and pain relief.
"It is significant that he accepts that he is responsible for his action and he appeared genuinely remorseful for these actions."
Hinds also said he's satisfied that Tillman, 52, has learned the consequences of mixing medication.
The discharge means Tillman is considered guilty of the offence, but will not have a criminal record, and will not have to meet any conditions during a probationary period.
Tillman said outside the courthouse that he was pleased with the decision.
"I want to make it very, very clear that a mistake was made. As I said (Monday), I assume full responsibility for it, although it was without one ounce of malice or intent," he said. "It's a regret that I'll take to my grave."
Court heard that Tillman came up behind the teen, put his thumbs through her belt loops and pulled her body against his, although Tillman has said he doesn't remember anything. Defence lawyer Aaron Fox said his client wasn't thinking clearly because he had taken a double dose of sleep aids and pain medication for a sore back.
The Crown did not oppose a discharge of some kind.
Tillman told court Monday that he was "profoundly sorry" for hurting the teen, his family and the entire Roughrider organization.
Court heard Tillman was supposed to be at a board meeting Aug. 6, 2008, but he was encouraged to go home by staff who thought he was "acting in an unusual manner."
Tillman joined the teen and his children at home. The girl bent over as she fed one of the kids, said Crown prosecutor Bill Burge.
"When she stood up, the accused put his hands on her hips with his fingers in her belt loops and he pulled the rear end of the complainant into himself," said Burge. "While in that position there was physical contact that was clearly of a sexual nature.
"This occurred without the consent of the complainant and she told the accused, 'No."'
Fox told court that employees at the Rider office described him as being "loopy" and "definitely not himself and not with it," the day of the encounter.
The teen did not make a victim impact statement, but Burge said she accepts Tillman's apology.
Tillman, who helped lead the Riders to the Grey Cup championship in 2007, has been on paid administrative leave since being charged early last year.
Rider president Jim Hopson has asked that a special meeting of the board of directors be held "as soon as reasonably possible." The Riders and Tillman have agreed that he won't have any day-to-day responsibilities with the CFL club for now.
Tillman has enjoyed great success in the CFL as a general manager. He led the B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts to Grey Cup titles in 1994 and 1997, respectively, and has worked as a television analyst with TSN and Sportsnet.
Tillman also served as the general manager of the expansion Ottawa Renegades for three seasons before returning to broadcasting and ultimately landing the post with the Riders. In July 2008, the Riders rewarded him with a contract extension through 2010.