After a renewed investigation, Yukon RCMP have laid new charges against a former education assistant who abused children at Hidden Valley Elementary School.
The former education assistant, 34-year-old William Auclair-Bellemare, was found guilty of coercing and inappropriately touching a student and sentenced to six months in jail last year.
On Sept. 10, RCMP laid eight new charges.
Auclair-Bellemare has now been accused of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability, two counts of forcible confinement, two counts of sexual assault, one count of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.
He was arrested and appeared in court in Whitehorse on Sept. 10. He was released on bail on Sept. 13 with conditions restricting his movements and interaction with minors.
The education assistant was employed by the school until 2019. He was dismissed following the allegations of abuse.
The new charges follow reporting by the CBC and Yukon News on a lawsuit filed by the father of the original victim. Numerous parents at Hidden Valley were shocked after the report and said they were never informed of the incident nor contacted by RCMP.
In particular, a number of parents who spoke to the Yukon News anonymously said they were never questioned about the incident despite their children receiving instruction from Auclair-Bellemare.
After outcry from concerned parents, RCMP continued the investigation this summer and spoke to parents in order to identify more potential victims.
The News will not be releasing names or identifying details of the children affected in order to protect their privacy.
Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers called on the government to address why the incident was kept hidden from parents when it occurred over a year ago.
“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,” said a release from the party.
The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has announced a “systemic review of school safety and supports at Hidden Valley Elementary School after the conviction and sentencing of an educational assistant formerly employed with the school.”
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org