Whitehorse Daily Star

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MAKING AN APOLOGY – Nicole Morgan, the deputy minister of Education, told this morning’s news conference officials apologize to parents for the way they handled communication about the sexual charges laid against a former educational assistant at Hidden Valley School.

RCMP, government apologize over handling of charges against former EA

The Department of Education and the Yukon RCMP both issued abject apologies to the public this morning during a briefing on the disturbing situation at Hidden Valley Elementary School.

By Tim Giilck on September 23, 2021

The Department of Education and the Yukon RCMP both issued abject apologies to the public this morning during a briefing on the disturbing situation at Hidden Valley Elementary School.

There has been an uproar for more than two months after it was revealed to the public that in 2020, a former educational assistant had been convicted of a sexual offence involving a child at the school in 2019 and sentenced to a jail term.

He has since been charged with more sexual offences related to his presence at the school, and is currently free on bail.

At a joint news conference this morning, RCMP Supt. Scott Sheppard was the most vocal participant.

He said bluntly he has never seen a situation like the one involving a former educational assistant at the school allegedly committing sexual offences on more than one child go so badly awry.

“I’m not happy to be sitting here today,” Sheppard told the media.

He said he is looking closely into the investigation and its approach to the case.

Sheppard said apparently the team failed to consider the possibility there could have been more cases involving the same educational assistant, given his constant contact with children – and that is “inexplicable” to him.

“We should have done better. I am not pleased. I consider this a major, major error.”

There are more cases, he acknowledged, but he declined to say how many.

“I know that number,” Sheppard told reporters. “But I’m not going to reveal them.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he added. “It’s a very unusual occurrence.”

Sheppard said most of the blame falls on the RCMP and his investigating officers.

They did not need permission from the department to launch an investigation, nor did they need input from the department.

The British Columbia RCMP have been requested to review the investigation, Sheppard said.

“We should have done better,” he conceded.

On Sept. 10, it was announced that the previous day, the Yukon RCMP Specialized Response Unit had arrested William Auclair-Bellemare, 34, of Whitehorse.

He has been charged with offences related to incidents occurring between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2018.

Auclair-Bellemare has been charged with sexual exploitation, sexual assault, sexual interference and the invitation to sexual touching.

The court has imposed a publication ban on further details of the situation.

This morning’s news conference followed a meeting with the school council and families Wednesday evening that was closed to the media and the general public.

Nicole Morgan, the deputy minister of Education, spoke on behalf of the government in the absence of Education Minister Jeanie McLean.

Morgan would only say McLean was “unavailable to attend the briefing this morning” – but she did attend last evening’s meeting at the school

“We have heard from the parents that we failed them,” Morgan said. “For that, we apologize.”

Morgan paused several times to collect herself during her remarks, apparently overcome by the severity of the situation.

As with Sheppard, she apologized for the way the department and government had handled the situation and the lack of proper communications with parents, students and families.

“We treat this very seriously,” Morgan said.

The government did not initially reveal the situation to the parents after the first charges were laid in 2019. The parents of the child involved have launched civil suits against the government and the offender.

Even once the situation became public over the past summer, the government refused to say much, because the “matter was before the courts.”

That line was used by the government repeatedly until today’s briefing.

Morgan also said the government will co-operate completely with a review of the situation being undertaken by Annette King, the territory’s Child and Youth Advocate.

Initially, Department of Education officials were adamantly opposed to that review. McLean and her officials argued the advocate did not have the authority to undertake her review.

Both Sheppard and Morgan acknowledged their respective organizations would struggle in months to come to regain the trust of the public after the blunders in communications and otherwise.

Morgan said a list of “action items” had come out of Wednesday evening’s meeting, but she did not outline them.

Comments (32)

Up 1 Down 0

Sinking parent on Sep 29, 2021 at 5:16 pm

3 strikes and you're out right??

Ms Morgan’s senior management winning streak consists of:

- A cover up involving a child predator
- the demise of every grade 10-12 student last year
- and, the grade 8 wood street social experiment

Can’t wait for her next successful career move …. Somebody stop this train wreck.

Up 8 Down 4

Al on Sep 29, 2021 at 1:12 pm

@ let the record show

It seems you do not understand the responsibilities Brad has as an MLA. First off he does not sit on the government benches, he is an opposition member, in the YP. The School Board is responsible to the Government - not the opposition. The school is not even in his riding. Yes some of the children from his riding go to that school, so what? There are many of the children in that riding that go several different schools in Whitehorse.

You seem to think that Brad has access to "all" this information floating around on the issue. He is just like the rest of us out here - in the dark until it hits the media.

I simply do not understand why you keep thinking Brad knows everything, or should know? This is not the first time you have implied Brad is not doing his job. Let me tell you something my friend - you may not like him (frankly I don't care if you do or don't) but as a constituent in his riding he is by far one of the best MLA's in the Legislature. So stop maligning him over something he has no control over. If you want to get to the bottom of this issue go after the government, unless of course you are a Liberal trying to create disinformation.

Up 10 Down 5

Groucho d'North on Sep 29, 2021 at 8:34 am

I'm wondering how long Kate White will continue to prop up this morally bankrupt government? If as many support a minister being fired over this matter the balance of power will change probably prompting another election, but this time with more of the cards on the table. Government has painted themselves into a corner. Prepare for the coming spin cycle.

Up 4 Down 5

Let the record Indicate on Sep 29, 2021 at 5:25 am

When did the School Board first apprise Brad of the situation at the school and how long did he sit on that information without coming forward in the legislature?
"Justice delayed is justice denied." I think someone may have used this quote recently.

Up 21 Down 5

Sarah Davison on Sep 28, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Just how incompetent are these people?
Why are we paying the RCMP?
Since when is an "apology" a substitute for real accountability?
Why is the Deputy Minister still in post?

Up 17 Down 11

Groucho d'North on Sep 28, 2021 at 8:50 am

I assume you are new to this political process otherwise you would know that the government (the Liberals) did not want Mr. Cathers (an opposition Conservative) to know about all the vile things that this EA was up too.
The only reason this story got out was because a reporter read the court docket in the Justice building and did some follow-up, or they just sat in the court room and heard what the case was all about. The government was probably working their damnedest to keep this matter secret from everyone.
Government does not involve all members of the Legislature unless they are in session and even then they are quite skinny on the information they share for fear of exposing another situation they failed to handle appropriately.
Mr. Cathers did his job exactly as he was expected to as an opposition MLA, he protected his constituants by keeping them informed of this particular government failure.

Up 13 Down 30

Astonished! on Sep 27, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Brad Cathers should step down for failure to represent his constituents.

Up 33 Down 3

Sheepchaser on Sep 26, 2021 at 10:26 am

The Canada Public Service Playbook: lie until you’re caught, when caught look incompetent to avoid consequences, collect pension. There’s no accountability, just theatre.
Folks, you have to look out for yourselves and each other. Organize, communicate, advocate. Bypass low level bureaucracy and get in front of the decision makers. Force their hand. Let go of the idea that the formalities and protocol they try to enforce is anything more than a distraction and attempt to shirk their duties. Our institutions have become all game and little work. It’s surprisingly easy to game them right back. Confuse, surround and only then, bargain. Works for me every time.

Up 24 Down 25

Observer on Sep 25, 2021 at 11:23 am

This story has certainly got a lot of air time across all media here in the Yukon and has raised the ire of parents and the usual bunch that comment on pretty much all stories that allow them. Just a reality check here folks:
For many, many years, first nations children were torn from their families by officials of the government and put in institutions where their culture was beat out of them. They were killed by the thousands, abused both sexually and physically, used for bizarre experiments like food malnutrition. Buried in unmarked graves and no information shared with the child's family.
I am not saying what happened here was not comparable, what I want is for hopefully some people to look at what happened to first nations children with the same lens.

Up 30 Down 8

Groucho d'North on Sep 25, 2021 at 11:10 am

This should be an interesting case study on how this Liberal government attempts to gain back the confidence of Yukoners.
Clearly somebody has to 'Fall on their sword' to accept responsibility for all that went wrong with this issue.
Considering how they twisted an election result to protect the pensions of some MLAs, I expect their downstream activities related to this file will be interesting to watch.

Up 33 Down 11

Brenda on Sep 25, 2021 at 5:14 am

Here we go again - the Liberals saying their sorry after the fact when they can’t “cover up” the truth. This is the group home fiasco all over again. Is anyone just a little concerned that these cover ups involve harm to children ? Minister Frost should have lost her job so don’t hold your breathe that the former Minister Tracey McPhee will lose hers - her punishment was being shuffled or was it more cover up. Shame on Minister MCLean for not being there, she should have been there whether she was responsible or not. The whole thing is shameful and so is this Liberal government yet we keep voting them in. We as voting citizens need to take some responsibility for allowing these Ministers to cover up serious situations and not demanding consequences.

Up 27 Down 3

Nathan Living on Sep 24, 2021 at 8:10 pm

The handling of this situation is very sad.
I can think of many ways parents could have been informed of the investigation that was underway.
It would have been very easy to send out information that suggested all parents were contacted for the benefit of the student's welfare.

Up 19 Down 22

bonanzajoe on Sep 24, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Josey, it's the normal way Marxists do business. I quit the Liberals when Pierre Elliot Trudeau conquered Canada and turned it into a Cuba.

Up 20 Down 9

bonanzajoe on Sep 24, 2021 at 4:53 pm

Complicated Matters: The "mob mentality" doesn't need to stop. It's the only way to get to the root of things. There has been to much silence from people. When children's lives are at risk, things need to be done. The "mob" needs to get more noisy and active.

Up 36 Down 2

Sarah Davison on Sep 24, 2021 at 1:56 pm

The accused was there for four years. It's beyond incompetent for the RCMP to fail to investigate further incidents especially given that time period. It's extraordinary for the Yukon government to fail to notify parents, particularly when charges are forthcoming. Something about this stinks. Are any further charges against any further individuals expected? Has the RCMP been challenged to explain themselves beyond saying that they're sorry?

Up 54 Down 4

Get real on Sep 24, 2021 at 11:42 am

Quite the display of crocodile tears from Ms Morgan at that presser.

The Minister, DM and the senior levels of the public schools branch should all be under an investigation (obviously) not lead by the RCMP who by their own admission are either complicit or incompetent.

Up 35 Down 6

YukonMax on Sep 24, 2021 at 8:24 am

Oh well then!
Thanks for the aplologies.
Touching, really.

Up 36 Down 4

Rick S on Sep 24, 2021 at 7:09 am

So there's more cases involving this particular assistant but they won't say how many. Are there more teachers/assistants involved with other cases? Why did the RCMP drag their feet and handle things so poorly to the point an external review has been requested? Why was McLean absent for an extremely important conference involving authorities? McLean sure sounds worried about a third-party review.

Up 47 Down 1

Adam Smith on Sep 23, 2021 at 10:25 pm

Someone senior needs to resign. It is that simple. Not about blame but accountability. This oversight has placed a burden on children that we as a society can not condone nor accept. We are too far along in this PR exercise to accept anything else. What if it was your kids?

Up 33 Down 13

Josey Wales on Sep 23, 2021 at 9:05 pm

Oh yeah..forgot this keystone.
Odd how this is conveniently acknowledged AFTER the election?
The manipulation from many state actors on just this particular topic, is very revealing to the facades of “public safety”.

Using our children for their power lust, is off the chart diabolical and sociopathic. But so very liberal, happens too often.
Any guesses to how many state actors lose their Juno’s, maybe get fired...zero I suggest.

Up 28 Down 20

bonanzajoe on Sep 23, 2021 at 8:53 pm

Mike: It all started back in the late 60s. The PM was the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, father of this *%&@!# we have as PM today. He took all the human rights away from the innocent and gave it to the perps. But wait, his son is just putting the finishing touches to his father's work. The worst is yet to come.

Up 34 Down 6

bonanzajoe on Sep 23, 2021 at 8:46 pm

If this is so serious, why is this man out on bail. Will the police and Dept of Ed be as sorry if it happens again? These people need to be put in remand until they are found guilty or not guilty. Maybe the Judges should be held responsible if things go awry.

Up 18 Down 16

Josey Wales on Sep 23, 2021 at 5:21 pm

Hey Supt. Scott...allow me to explain what might have happened.

William is most likely a liberal supporter, if not a card carrying liberal union blowhole/indoctrinator...public school system is absolutely infected with them.
Some even once gym teachers, become liberal talking heads...acting surprised as...state actors do.
...in the theatre of acting.

Up 14 Down 15

complicated matters on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:57 pm

I'm not using my usual pseudonym as the backlash here will be fierce.
We don't know the details, so the mob mentality really needs to stop.

Some possibilities to consider:

- It is not uncommon for alleged perpetrators of sexual offences involving children to plead guilty in a plea deal to avoid having their name published and to spare the child(ren) from the potential pain of the court process.

- in cases like these where there has been much publicity, children may have already been influenced by their parents, other well-meaning individuals and even by other children.

- The investigation process itself may invite claims of sexual impropriety that did not actually occur.

Unfortunately, this situation has become so deeply politicized now.

Up 38 Down 7

Yukoner on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:54 pm

And surprise, Jeanie McLean is not available.. there must have been something more important?

Up 28 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:44 pm

"Justice delayed is justice denied"

Up 34 Down 5

Parents, demand termination of DOE people involved in this on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Those who were in the Department of Ed when this happened, and f'ed up the investigation need to be fired. That would be Nicole Morgan and minister McPhee, and any of the Yukon Party who were in at the time. McPhee got shuffled but where is she at this press conference? We don't forget that YOU were in charge of this incompetent investigation through your government!! Don't blame Dendys--she just took over the totally incompetent handling of one of the worst cases of pedophilia in the Yukon, which was done before she even got in office!!. The noose needs to be around the neck of those who swept this under the rug from DOE. Parents, fight for this!!!!!
So 'Al,' while I agree with some of your comments, this is not all on the Libs--whoever was in power as a minister, DM, and the party need to be held accountable. Clean house!!

Up 24 Down 4

Matthew on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:18 pm

Absolutely disgusting! Lock them up, don't give them their job back. They are clearly predators that prey on the young! I demand jail time for ALL involved who let this happen over and over!

Up 87 Down 5

Mike on Sep 23, 2021 at 3:31 pm

Why is this convicted pedophile out on bail? What does a sexual predator do to convince a court that he or she is deserving of bail after raping and destroying the lives of little children? Where in the justice system is there room for a repeat sexual offender granted preference over the safety of our children? Why is that in the best of public interest to release this guy back into the community to walk in the same air as his victims?
There is something seriously wrong with the court system here in the Yukon when sexual offenses are minimized and the victims are ignored. Did each parent agree to his release? NOPE. They get a random apology months after this creep is already out with some victim Services worker updating the victims parents of this predators court cases and advised not to act and wait for court. But whose job is it to protect our children if not the courts it falls on the parents and that's where this system fails the people and favors the predators.

Up 82 Down 6

Disgusting on Sep 23, 2021 at 3:21 pm

The children have been traumatized and you all continue forth with your jobs. The apology will not remove the trauma these children have faced.

Up 27 Down 6

John on Sep 23, 2021 at 2:55 pm

All this reminds me of Nero.

Up 69 Down 20

Al on Sep 23, 2021 at 2:54 pm

Well isn't this just lovely. The opposition consistently pursued these events when all others were saying they were just playing politics. Disgusting outcome, from what we know.

I am sorry but an apology (the Liberal way for causing harm) doesn't cut it. There needs to be some hard discipline handed out in Education from the top (starting with the two Ministers involved) down to the Principal and every Director and ADM involved. In short we expect to see dismissals of all these people for their role and inaction. The same goes with the RCMP. We the public (yes the mob as you call them) out here are fed up with this issue getting to where it is now. You negligently put "our" children at risk but not acting in the "best" interest of their well being.

I for one "do not accept" the apology. For me it is an admission of guilt - and with that guilt there has to be serious "consequences."
Furthermore this is all of a sudden breaking news. Various actors in this tragedy have known this for sometime. My suspicion is that it was deliberately sat on until after the federal election so as not to impact Lord Hanley's bid.

I have stated my expectations as to outcomes. What do I believe will happen ? The RCMP will do due diligence and there will be consequences for the officers involved. The government will do absolutely nothing, zip, nadda, nix, zero but hide behind their apology, wring their collective hands and find some poor sod (likely the cleaner at the school) to blame. That is the Liberal way.

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