October 17, 2016 - 12:53 PM
SASKATOON - Catholic officials in Saskatoon say they're concerned that a candidate running for school trustee has past convictions for sex offences.
Father Kevin McGee, acting administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, says Denis Robert Hall's convictions raise questions about his suitability as a candidate.
"Our concern is for the community and how this would be a trigger for many people who have had profoundly painful experiences of abuse and that this would again resurface for them a tremendous pain associated with those experiences," McGee said Monday.
Hall was convicted in 1981 of two charges of having sexual intercourse with girls aged 14 to 16 and two charges of indecent assault against girls. The victims were members of a basketball team he coached in the Regina Church Basketball Association.
Hall received a pardon in 1994.
But McGee said "there's no timeline in terms of people's memories" for those with a public profile.
He also questions whether Hall can build a trusting relationship with other board members and the community.
However, McGee said Hall has met the legal qualifications to run as a candidate.
Efforts to reach Hall for comment were unsuccessful.
Hall's candidate biography on the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools website said he is a father of five Catholic school graduates and has a combined master's degree in education leadership and business administration.
The bio said Hall would work to ensure all students and staff have tools for success. He said he plans to promote student development of critical thinking and daily activity through physical education, as well as teaching proper nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
In the past, Hall worked with Young Athlete Saskatchewan Inc., which operates a summer basketball school for youth.
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said in a statement that it became aware Hall was running as a candidate after nominations closed.
"Mr. Hall qualifies as a candidate under the Local Government Elections Act, 2015. The school division has no legal recourse and is bound by the legislation," said the statement.
"We are aware of Mr. Hall's criminal convictions, and we have taken steps over the years to prevent him and his organization, YAS, from having access to students and our buildings. We will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of our students in the future."
Young Athlete Saskatchewan Inc., says Hall no longer works with the organization, but was a model citizen.
YAS chair Brian North said Hall produced clean criminal record and vulnerable sector checks, as well as his teaching certificate. North said Hall worked for school boards too, but didn't want to name them.
"When Mr. Hall was here, he was nothing but responsible and an outstanding leader and educator," said North.
"This is a person who made a dreadful mistake back when he was a very young man. He was a young man in his 20s, and we knew of that, and we gave him a chance. He never, ever, ever let us down and we are very thankful to the service he gave here."
— By Jennifer Graham in Regina
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016