15 May 2024

'Obsessed' coach Dr Richard Lucas spared jail for abusing girl during training

| Albert McKnight
Richard Andrew Lucas, 72.

Richard Andrew Lucas, 72, repeatedly tried to hide his face from media outside the courthouse. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to child abuse.

A specialist coach who became “obsessed” with a girl he was supposed to be training has avoided being returned to jail for the abuse he inflicted on her, even though he hasn’t shown remorse for his crimes.

Dr Richard Andrew Lucas was convicted and sentenced to two years’ jail, mostly suspended for a three-year good behaviour order by the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday (15 May).

A suppression order previously prevented reporting the 72-year-old’s name, however this was lifted on the day.

The victim, who had dreams of becoming a professional sportswoman, was aged under 18 when the abuse began and there was around a 50-year age gap between her and Lucas.

Her mother had asked for his help in coaching her daughter, but about a year and a half later the parents had become very concerned about how much he was seeing and speaking to the girl and told him his services were no longer required. Afterwards, their daughter began to tell them about his behaviour.

For instance, Lucas stared at and talked about her body, repeatedly touched her, gave her long hugs, took and kept photos of her in a swimming top, held her hand when they went for walks and kept asking her to kiss him.

READ ALSO Belconnen therapeutic massage parlour fined $1 million for threatening, underpaying seven staff

He began sexualised conversations with her, including encouraging her to talk about her sexuality, asking what pornography she watched, asking how she would feel if she performed a sex act on a certain friend, and got her to complete a sexual arousal questionnaire.

He wrote extensively about her in his diary, including making sexualised comments about her, and told her details about his own sexual history. At one stage he told her he loved her.

“[I] probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I just couldn’t wait until you were 18,” he told her.

After their coaching relationship ended, he continued to email her and was eventually arrested in August 2022.

Richard Andrew Lucas pleaded guilty to several child abuse-related offences. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Lucas refused to look at his victim when she told the court about the impact of his offences earlier this year.

“[He] single-handedly reached through time and changed the course of my life forever,” she said.

“The fact is [he] is selfish, conniving and evil.”

Magistrate James Lawton said Lucas had breached the trust he owed to his victim and that sports coaches must be deterred from offending in this way.

The magistrate said he had essentially indicated his guilty pleas were of “convenience” and he believed he had been acting in the best interest of the victim.

It seemed he had become “obsessed” with the victim, Magistrate Lawton said, and his pleas did not reflect remorse. He did say that while the victim was a child, she was not pre-pubescent so “Dr Lucas is not a pedophile”.

READ ALSO Attorney-General tells survivors government can’t intervene ahead of pedophile coach’s resentencing

Lucas has no prior convictions, has a doctorate in Philosophy, worked in education and is now financially supported by his superannuation. He developed severe depression after he was charged.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of committing an act of indecency on a young person under special care and single counts of committing an act of indecency with a person under 16, as well as capturing visual data.

He fought his charges until the day of his hearing, when he entered his guilty pleas.

As he served seven days in custody before he was granted bail, his sentence was backdated to account for this period, then the remainder of the two-year jail sentence was suspended.

As part of his good behaviour order, he must be supervised by authorities and attend programs or counselling as directed, particularly in regards to sexual offending and mental health.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call Triple Zero.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.