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Former N.S. teacher pleads guilty to sexual abuse dating back decades

HALIFAX — A former teacher and hockey coach has pleaded guilty to 35 counts of sexually abusing boys in Nova Scotia in incidents dating back several decades.

HALIFAX — A former teacher and hockey coach has pleaded guilty to 35 counts of sexually abusing boys in Nova Scotia in incidents dating back several decades.

Sixty-seven-year-old Michael Patrick McNutt entered the plea today in relation to 34 victims during a telephone hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

McNutt was arrested in January 2019 as part of a police investigation that began in October 2016 after several complainants came forward with allegations they had been sexually abused by teachers and coaches in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Halifax man had been facing a total of 95 charges involving 35 complainants, and the new single indictment is the result of extensive negotiations between the Crown and defence.

McNutt pleaded guilty to 10 charges of sexual assault, 20 charges of indecent assault and five counts of gross indecency.

A hearing has been set for July 15 to settle a dispute over facts pertaining to one of the complainants, and Justice Jamie Campbell scheduled a two-day sentencing hearing for Aug. 10-11 and has imposed a publication ban on the identity of all of the complainants.

Crown attorney Mark Heerema told the court Wednesday that the original indictments would not be formally withdrawn until the sentencing hearing and that a charge related to one of the previous complainants had been withdrawn.

"That's because the Crown no longer has a realistic prospect of conviction with respect to that singular count," said Heerema.

According to the new indictment, most of the offences occurred between 1970 and 1989, in the Halifax-Dartmouth area but also in Grand Lake, Truro, Stellarton and New Glasgow.

When McNutt was arrested in 2019, police laid 27 sex-related charges related to 13 youths, including 14 counts of gross indecency and 13 counts of indecent assault.

At the time, police said more charges were anticipated and they encouraged other alleged victims to come forward.

McNutt's arrest was the result of Project Apollo, which also saw another Halifax man charged in April, 2019.

Jaddus Joseph Poirier, 78, is awaiting trial on two charges of sexual assault and two of gross indecency.

Police originally laid 16 charges stemming from alleged incidents in the Halifax area in the 1980s and 1990s.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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