'It’s tortured me': Victims speak out as former teacher is sentenced to 15 years for sex abuse
HALIFAX -- A former Nova Scotia teacher and hockey and basketball coach has been sentenced to 15 years behind bars for sexually abusing boys several decades ago.
Michael Patrick McNutt, 67, pleaded guilty in June to 35 sex-related charges involving 34 different victims who were abused in the 1970s and 1980s.
The charges include 10 counts of sexual assault, 20 counts of indecent assault and five counts of gross indecency.
"I certainly am unaware of any other sentencing proceeding in Canada where an accused was sentenced for this many victims of childhood sexual violence,” said Crown Attorney Mark Heerema on Tuesday.
A publication ban is in place to protect the identity of the victims, who were young boys at the time of the offences.
Some of McNutt’s victims were in court Tuesday.
One said after the court appearance he was pleased with the judge’s decision.
"I'm just glad it's finally coming to an end for a lot of people and hopefully a lot of people have some peace and comfort,” he said. "I've been an emotional wreck for over 30 years. It's been in and out in my life and continually will be and, just hoping for some peace now."
"I feel pretty relieved. It's tortured me for a long time, since I was 10,” said a second victim. "Tried to push it out a lot of years, over decades, with drugs and alcohol but I'm glad with today's outcome."
Tuesday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Jamie Campbell said McNutt lived for decades without any consequences before imposing a 15-year sentence.
"It's very difficult to imagine the turmoil that these gentlemen have faced over the decades. I applaud their strength in being here. It's a sorrowful day to have to acknowledge that these things happen in our society but it's with the strength of victims that these things become uncovered and so today is about their success,” said Heerema.
"It's hard to find any, I would say joy or anything to really feel good about today. Certainly as the Crown, we're glad that the court recognized the harmfulness and the wrongfulness of such a violence against children."
Heerema hopes the sentencing also sends a message to victims.
"I hope what it tells victims of childhood sexual violence that our justice system, perhaps slowly, has come to understand what they've gone through but that we're getting there and that the courts will take it seriously,” he said.
According to an agreed statement of facts presented to the court, McNutt was a teacher at Sir Robert Borden Junior High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The statement says he was given the opportunity to resign in 1983 after parents complained. Two years later, he became a substitute teacher until a complaint was made to police in 1994.
"It's hard for me looking back, what we now know, to see I guess how a sexual predator was about to operate for so long in our community without detection from the authorities. It's a failing, unquestionably it's a failing. But all we can do today is try our best for the court to answer what happened but I can't explain,” said Heerema.
The Crown had suggested a 15-year sentence, while the defence had been looking for a three-to-five-year sentence.
"The courts today clearly stated that people who choose to sexually assault children or commit abuse against children will face very significant and very severe consequences and large penitentiary terms,” said defence lawyer Colin Coad, who believes his client is remorseful for his actions.
"From a very early point in this case, he instructed me he wished to resolve the matters and enter guilty pleas and not put his victims through a trial. I think that clearly establishes his remorse. I think it really allows him to show the victims he doesn't want to traumatize them anymore."