A former teacher is facing 16 charges in connection with alleged sexual assaults involving minors in the Halifax area decades ago.

Halifax Regional Police launched an investigation in October 2016 after several alleged victims came forward.

Police allege the incidents happened throughout the Halifax region in the 1980s and 1990s and involved three male students.

Police say the three alleged victims were youths at the time and that the accused was in a position of trust as a teacher.

Officers arrested 77-year-old Jaddus Joseph Poirier at a Halifax address Wednesday morning.

In a statement to CTV News, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education said: “These are very serious and troubling charges. We appreciate the diligence of the police and more importantly, the courage of the individuals who have come forward to share their stories. The individual in question was employed as a teacher with the former Halifax District School Board from 1984 to 2002.”

Poirier is facing three counts of gross indecency, six counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual exploitation, and two counts each of sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching, as per the Criminal Codes that were in effect at the time. A publication ban is in place to protect the identities of the alleged victims.

Poirier was released from custody after appearing Thursday in Dartmouth provincial court.

“He’s released on an undertaking to re-appear in court with conditions  including no contact with the victims, remaining away from any residences, places of employment or education of the victims. Also to have no contact with individuals under the age of 18 years,” said Crown attorney Shauna MacDonald.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and they are encouraging any other possible victims to come forward.

“I do believe that additional victims are possibly out there and again, we encourage them to come forward,” said Halifax Regional Police Staff Sgt. Don Stienburg. “Many times in these types of cases, there are victims out there that aren’t willing or aren’t ready to come forward. So we’re hoping that the attention on this case will bring forward more victims in relation to these types of offences.”

Poirier is scheduled to return to Dartmouth provincial court on May 15, at which point he is expected to enter a plea. None of the allegations has been tested in court.