Whitehorse Daily Star

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Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers

YP ‘disturbed’ over more charges against former education assistant

The Yukon Party says it’s “deeply disturbed” to learn that more charges have been laid against a former education assistant at Hidden Valley School.

By Whitehorse Star on September 14, 2021

The Yukon Party says it’s “deeply disturbed” to learn that more charges have been laid against a former education assistant at Hidden Valley School.

The charges were laid after another alleged victim came forward.

In 2020, the former education assistant was convicted of sexual interference in relation to a 2019 incident at the school and sentenced to six months in jail.

“It is even more disturbing that these new charges were only brought forward because of the media reporting on a civil case against the Yukon government by parents of the first victim,” the Yukon Party said Monday afternoon.

“It has become clear that the Liberal government knew about the initial allegations against the former educational assistant when they were first brought forward in November 2019.

“Furthermore, the Liberal government was aware that the abuser pled guilty to one count of sexual interference in 2020. However, despite this dating back almost two years, parents only learned of this after CBC broke the initial story in July 2021.”

Last Friday, 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. He appeared in court last Friday, and CBC Yukon reports he has since been released on bail.

A publication ban on further details of the case has been imposed.

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers has written to Education Minister Jeanie McLean multiple times to inquire about when Liberal ministers knew about the alleged abuse, “and why the government chose not to communicate with parents, teachers, or the school community about it years ago.

“So far, the minister has refused to answer key questions,” Cathers said.

The most recent charges confirm “the disturbing reality” that if the parents of the first victim had not launched a civil suit against the offender and the government, “then Yukoners would still be in the dark about this tragic abuse,” the party said.

“The Yukon Party is calling on the Liberal government, in the strongest possible terms, to explain to Yukoners why they chose not to communicate with parents, teachers, or Yukoners about the initial abuse and why it took a private civil case to bring these allegations to light.”

“Many parents have reached out to me since the initial story broke in July,” said Cathers. The elementary school is located in his Lake Laberge riding.

“It has been appalling to see the government not provide answers to many of the questions I have asked on their behalf,” he said.

“This Liberal government cannot continue to hide from this – parents deserve to know why they were not notified when someone in close contact with their children had pled guilty to sexual interference.”

Opposition Leader Currie Dixon said there are “serious questions that need to be answered about the Liberal government and their lack of communication, and why they are not co-operating fully with the Child and Youth Advocate’s review into these matters.”

The advocate, Annette King, said last month she planned to review how the situation at the school was handled.

McLean has told the Star that King lacks the authority to conduct her review, and that the government could offer no further comment on the situation because of the civil suit.

King has countered that it’s wrong to suggest she lacks the authority to conduct her review.

Comments (19)

Up 2 Down 6

Observer on Sep 19, 2021 at 11:09 am

They are "disturbed" alright, I have a few other choice words for that bunch.

Up 4 Down 2

yukongirl on Sep 18, 2021 at 7:36 pm

I don’t have children at HV but mine are in the Yukon school system. Like everyone else, I am horrified and disgusted by this situation. Parents should have been told so they could talk with their children themselves and prepare them with the truth. Staying quiet about this type only benefits the person who did it. It certainly doesn’t allow for discovery of other incidents. School employees are in a position of trust and have access to every child in that school regardless of whether they work directly with them or not.

It is extremely clear that policy needs to be reviewed and revised. All politicians and parents should be screaming about this. Since policy is what dictated the silence, school councils, administrators and the government should be called into account if it isn’t changed.

Our children are ours to protect. Unfortunately we now have to react and not be proactive.

Up 8 Down 8

Groucho d'North on Sep 18, 2021 at 9:54 am

Simply put: The Silver Liberal Cabinet decided to put their opportunity to win the last election first by hiding this issue away from the parents of the children and the public at large. That is not a failure, that is a purposeful and deceitful manipulation of their responsibility to serve the Yukon public. Just because Justin does it too does not make it acceptable.

Up 7 Down 10

Jim C. on Sep 16, 2021 at 6:37 am

Is the Yukon Party concerned over members asleep in their ridings? This isn't the only one.

Up 24 Down 4

Another HVES Parent on Sep 15, 2021 at 1:10 pm

Ok I’ll be even more clear about how this isn’t about political points. I’m a Liberal, and they didn’t handle this well. I’m optimistically waiting for them to admit their mistakes and take appropriate action against officials or the system that led to this outcome. Objectively, this wasn’t dealt with appropriately. People can say all they want that the RCMP investigated and that folks in the departments legally couldn’t say anything but that is a flaw, it’s wrong, and we should be challenging this. Justice and the law isn’t always the moral or ethical right thing… that’s a fact. Ethics 101.

The argument for why this was wrong is that child safety and repair from harm are paramount when our children are entrusted in a system. This didn’t happen because a) children were harmed, b) children suffered on their own for years and research shows trauma that is not dealt with in appropriate timeframes compartmentalizes in the developing brain and can have long term impacts, and c) this all happened in our education system and parents weren’t informed in a timely manner order to identify potential harm and if they needed care.

For anyone defending and accepting all of this as ok, try using your head and heart a little bit harder. Take the politics or your own actions out of the equation and reflect from a different perspective (maybe the parents of the children recently identified). Anyone defending the actions of our RCMP/government or pointing out YP’s own issues, comes across as political. Go ahead and hate on YP, but please no one else say this situation is fine.

Up 13 Down 7

Outback beyond on Sep 15, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Time for there to be demonstrations at every elementary school Across the Yukon.
I’d happily stand in front of my kid’s school with a sign. The minister of education can face up to the reality of the anger of every parent/caregiver/grandparent who trusts their child will be safe at school

Also - I heard years ago that there were rooms at this school where kids couldn’t be seen (no glass doors). It was Entirely preventable.

Up 40 Down 12

Sue on Sep 15, 2021 at 8:54 am

I'm sorry HVES parent, but just because "your kids never had any contact with the abuser" does NOT mean the YP is in the wrong for weighing in on this.

Regardless of when the abuse took place, CHILDREN WERE ABUSED. The government did not tell the community. The government didn't tell other parents. TWO MORE children have come forward only because this hit the media. Your comments are so out of touch.

The Opposition absolutely should be involved here. The former minister should be out of a job as far as I am concerned, as should all those in the department who were involved in covering this up. The current minister should acknowledge mistakes were made instead of hiding.

This guy should have been facing multiple charges in 2019 and likely would have IF PARENTS KNEW.
Good for you Brad Cathers. Shame on this government.

Up 28 Down 5

ElleEye on Sep 15, 2021 at 8:14 am

I know for a fact that there have been other deviants working in Yukon's education system. It's sickening that the department does nothing to protect our children. My child was designated to a deviant's classroom and I had to demand my child be moved to the other class. I was disgusted that this person, who the department clearly had a record on, was allowed to continue teaching. He's retired now thank god.

Up 35 Down 12

Seriously? on Sep 14, 2021 at 11:20 pm

Seriously HVES parent?! This is a crap comment. Not everything is about securing political points. If I was in the opposition I would be opposed to the way this was handled as well. This came to light under the Liberal government. If the Opposition didn’t come out denouncing the way this was handled, they wouldn’t be doing their job. That is what they do. Opposition sees the cracks, pick at those cracks, government pulls up their socks and changes the way they do things. Mr. Cathers is doing exactly that. Shame on you for making this a political matter. He is doing his job. By the way, I am also an HVES parent. And I am pissed at this whole situation. And very pissed with this government for keeping this a secret.

Up 14 Down 34

EJ on Sep 14, 2021 at 10:36 pm

“It is even more disturbing that these new charges were only brought forward because of the media reporting on a civil case"
Really Brad? Really? The crappy communications from YG was more disturbing than the sexual assaults that happened?
Sounds like you are much more interested in scoring political points than in helping the kids and parents who have likely been traumatized. Gross.

Up 28 Down 18

bonanzajoe on Sep 14, 2021 at 9:16 pm

HVES: The Yukon Party is doing their job too. Once they found out about this, they were on the job. But the Liberals supported by their NDP marxist bros won't offer any information. So, as you are not involved, let the Yukon Party and the RCMP do their job.

Up 25 Down 16

bonanzajoe on Sep 14, 2021 at 9:12 pm

Liberals are experts at hiding things.

Up 9 Down 4

Anton on Sep 14, 2021 at 6:56 pm

He finally surfaces and yes he should have been on the ball since 2014 it appears.

Up 29 Down 7

Another parent on Sep 14, 2021 at 5:03 pm

The YP wouldn't have known about it during their time in office because the investigation happened LAST YEAR.
Trust me.
No one at the school knew about it either until the parent raised his concerns with the school.
The school dealt with it and notified appropriate authorities. Staff (and the parent who reported) were strictly told not to speak of it because the case went immediately to the RCMP. We weren't allowed to contact parents directly.
Everyone has done their job here.
The current government wasn't allowed to respond to parents concerns because it was under investigation and anything said could have impacted the cases.
Nothing was done wrong here.. other than the perpetrators actions.

Up 24 Down 15

Interesting…not on Sep 14, 2021 at 4:21 pm

Yukon liberal governments Mentality: “everything is good, everything is happy, everything is perfection in the Yukon” don’t want the tourism industry taking a hit, right? Yukon gov is a sick joke. Cover up, hide everything bad that happens. Imagine what else is being hidden.

Up 36 Down 8

Another HVES Parent on Sep 14, 2021 at 4:15 pm

I’m also a parent with children at HVES. I’m not aware of my child having any contact with the offender, but I do expect that I would have been notified that a sexual offender had worked in my child’s school because as parents we actually do not know the possible contact or interactions our children could have had.

I disagree that the point of this is to score political points. It’s the job of the opposition and our MLA to hold the government in charge to account and to advocate for parents when requested, which to my understanding, it has, and many times over.
Also to try and place the fault back on the YP is misguided… the first allegation of abuse was not reported and investigated until Fall 2019. What could they have done?

I agree that there are questions for the RCMP investigation, but that doesn’t mean the government departments (Education and Justice) shouldn’t be asked for important questions and concerns to be answered that parents have been making since July.
One final remark is that what YP comments and this article fail to make clear and emphasize is that these poor children were dealing with and suffering with this trauma on their own for an additional 2 years because of the failure to inform parents, even if privately. That is a tragedy.

To me, first commenter, you are making this about politics. I am not YP but I am thankful they are demanding answers and this terrible ordeal isn’t just flying under the radar.

Up 18 Down 7

Tammy on Sep 14, 2021 at 4:08 pm

For the last commenter… the RCMP did not reach out to the parents that he worked with. They did not even receive a list of those kids. Please take the time to get informed before undermining the hurt that people are feeling.
As the mother as a child who did not work with William, I feel it’s up to me to help out in public venues, to correct people like you, so that they can deal with their own situation without going public. Please try finding some compassion, and also realize, he had contact with more than just the kids he worked with in an official capacity.

Up 19 Down 28

YPIssues on Sep 14, 2021 at 3:57 pm

It is sickening that the YP would look to this serious and tragic issue to score political points. How about you look at your own political members and behaviours. YP attitudes and having your leader address them might make a great start to making a difference in our community. Your failure to address your own parties issues makes me question your motives in now complaining about other parties and their actions. You have no credibility.

Up 65 Down 109

HVES parent sick of politicians on Sep 14, 2021 at 3:00 pm

I'm the parent of children at HVES.
My children never had any contact with the abuser. I don't expect that I would have been notified of the issue in 2019 as there was no contact with my children and a court ordered publication ban was in place.

I wish the YP would stop trying to score political points from this tragic situation.
Instead of bashing the department, has anybody asked the RCMP about their investigation in 2019 - surely they did (or should have) reached out to the children / parents who the abuser had worked with over the years ???

These new charges go back to Jan 1. 2014. So, ironically for the YP party - for 3 years of this terrible abuse, the YP was the government - how was nothing known / done about it for all that time?

The situation is absolutely heartbreaking, but I don't think if reflects well on any politician to attempt to score political points from the tragic abuse of vulnerable children. Please stop. Let the RCMP do their job, let's get the victims the help and support they need and make sure this never happens again.

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