The need for a trial was averted on Friday when a former teacher’s aide pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting four girls who were students at a government primary school in 2014.
At the time of the assaults, two of the girls were six years old, one was seven and one was 10.
Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez ordered that no details be published that would lead to the identification of the girls.
The defendant was first brought to court in July 2015 when he was 19 years old. He was found fit to plead in November that year and shortly thereafter entered pleas of not guilty to 10 charges of indecently assaulting seven different girls.
There were several hearings before a trial date could be set.
At a case management hearing last Monday, when Friday’s trial date was set, the magistrate noted that special measures would need to be arranged so that the young witnesses could give their evidence, whether via CCTV or from behind a screen.
On Friday, Crown counsel Darlene Oko advised the court that she and defense attorney Laura Larner had been working non-stop on the case until late Thursday night. As a result, “No trial will be necessary,” she said.
She indicated that several charges had been combined, so that each new charge referred to one child with the dates of the offending expanded to cover a wider time frame.
After the defendant responded “guilty” to the four new charges, other charges relating to three other girls were left on file. This means they are not being proceeded with at this time, but they could be brought back before the court.
The magistrate said she would need a detailed social inquiry report on the defendant.
Ms. Oko asked the court to order victim impact statements.
Ms. Larner asked for updated reports from psychiatrists Dr. Arlene McGill and Dr. Marc Lockhart, both of whom saw the defendant at earlier stages of proceedings.
Sentencing was set for June 16 to ensure that all reports would be completed.
The defendant has been on bail throughout proceedings. A condition added to his bail last year was that he not contact any of the complainants or their families.
When the matter came to light, the Ministry of Education said it first received a report of “possible sexual abuse” on Nov. 27, 2014. The school initially reported the matter to government social services and that department referred it to police. Meanwhile, the defendant had resigned on Dec. 1, 2014. After investigations, police arrested him on June 25, 2015.