Law Society tribunal rules man who sexually abused children now ‘of good character,’ can be licenced as a lawyer

A man who sexually abused children and then was “not forthcoming” about it for years has changed, is now of “good character” and is eligible to practice law, an Ontario tribunal says.

A decision from the Law Society Tribunal was released after a six-day hearing last year regarding the applicant, which states that he “engaged in three incidents of sexual abuse of minor children in 2009.”

The man’s name was covered by a publication ban and not made public. The tribunal rule simply refers to him as “A.A.”

“It is undisputed that in 2009, during a two-month period, on three occasions, he engaged in acts of sexual abuse of minor children, including one of his children, that involved touching them and being touched by them while clothed,” the document states.

“His conduct came to light when the father of one of the children confronted him.”

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According to the decision, the incidents occurred outside of Canada and the man was not initially fully forthcoming about them when he returned to the country, either to medical officials, the local child protection agency, or the Law Society of Ontario in a previous application to be licenced.

He wasn’t criminally charged in the incidents.

“He previously applied to be licensed in 2012 but was not forthcoming about these incidents, and withdrew his application — he now re-applied for a licence to practise law,” the document says, later noting that the Law Society became aware of the abuse from an anonymous letter.

The tribunal ruling said the man had not been open with his therapist initially about the “nature and extent of his past actions or his condition.” It said he had spoken to the “leader of his congregation” and made “‘vague disclosures’” that he had been involved in incidents of sexual abuse of children.

“The panel found that the nature and extent of the behaviour was severe, but that based on his remorse, rehabilitative efforts, the fact that there had not been further incidents of abuse since 2009 and the significant passage of time, he has established that he is currently of good character and is eligible to be licensed, subject to a condition that he not meet with minor children while unsupervised.”

The hearing included testimony from the applicant, his father, his common-law partner, a religious leader, a physician who assessed him, a member of a therapy group the man attended and the clinical assistant to a now-retired psychologist who treated him.

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“The applicant acknowledged that his sexual offences have a human cost and he spoke with regret about his actions,” the document says.

“He described being unbalanced and filled with self-deception until 2017, when he acknowledged his actions and his dishonesty to himself and those affected by his actions,” the document said.

The ruling said the tribunal accepted that “since then he has confronted his past, been candid” and that he lived with remorse.

“We are persuaded that the evidence of the applicant on this issue was supported by, and consistent with, that of witnesses who, while supportive of him, were independent and unbiased.”

He sought and was engaged in different “therapeutic interventions” over the past several years, including treatment with a psychologist and group therapy.

The tribunal said they were persuaded that the applicant has a “genuine commitment” to continue therapy.

“In the present case, we are persuaded that the applicant has established he is currently a person of good character and that his application for an L1 licence should be granted,” the document said.

“We have also considered his offer of an undertaking not to meet in unsupervised settings with minor children and conclude that public confidence in the regulation of lawyers and paralegals would be enhanced by a term that requires that he not do so.”

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The full decision can be found here.

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