BROOMFIELD, Colo. - A jury has found a former gymnastics coach not guilty of charges of sexual assault on a child, according to the Broomfield Enterprise newspaper.
Robert Edward Barke was accused of sexually assaulting two boys from October 2004 to June 2007 while he was their gymnastics coach at Xtreme Altitude Gymnastics in Broomfield.
A jury on Friday found him not guilty of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as a pattern of abuse, sexual assault on a child and unlawful sexual contact.
Barke began to cry when the verdict was read, and his family and friends cried and smiled, the newspaper reported. Families and friends of the alleged victims, who are now 21 and 22, stayed silent and left the courtroom after court was adjourned.
The victims were ages 12 and 14 at the time the alleged assaults began.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that the teen boys idolized and trusted Barke but he abused and manipulated that trust for his own sexual gratification. The defense said Barke was a caring mentor, and that the sex assaults were made-up stories the teens fabricated for unknown reasons.
Barke was previously a gymnastics coach in Grand Junction.