Ex-Nunavut teacher accused of child sex charges should get single trial, court rules
Gjoa Haven man to get one, not five trials
A Gjoa Haven man facing eight sex charges involving five complainants, all under the age of consent at the time of the allegations, should get a single jury trial, Justice Bonnie Tulloch of the Nunavut Court of Justice said in a ruling distributed Aug. 24.
Kogvik, 56, is an ex-teacher who once worked at Kekertak Ilihakvik School in Gjoa Haven. He is now listed as an employee of the Nunavut Water Board, where he has worked since the late 1990s.
Most of the eight charges are “historical” in nature and involve touching for a sexual purpose. Two of the complainants allege the inappropriate touching occurred inside the school, Tulloch said in her judgment.
Following a preliminary enquiry that committed Kogvik to trial on the eight charges, his lawyer, Paul Falvo, applied to have the single trial severed into five separate trials: one for each complainant.
To support this, he said there’s a danger that a jury could use evidence from one complainant to unfairly convict Kogvik on charges involving another complainant.
He also said the eight charges related to “eight distinct events.”
But Tulloch found that holding five separate jury trials in Gjoa Haven could place a nearly impossible burden on the justice system.
“Everyone agrees that to have five jury trials would impose an impossible and incredible hardship on the community of Gjoa Haven. Even if one could get five separate juries to hear charges on five different complainants over time, the cost to our system of justice would be great to everyone, including the accused,” Tulloch said.
And she also found that trying the same person five times in the same small community might actually prejudice the minds of potential jurors.
“Holding five separate trials for similar offences involving one accused who is a prominent member of a community the size of Gjoa Haven will put considerable pressure on both the accused and the complainants,” Tulloch said.
“Even if the trials do not attract considerable media attention, getting five impartial and fair juries will be extremely difficult given the fact that news of one will travel quickly and may in fact affect the next and that one could affect the next, and so on.”
For those and other reasons, Tulloch ruled Kogvik should receive a single trial. She ordered that a trial date be set at a July 26 court appearance.
Tulloch heard the issue this past March 7 and issued her decision May 31.
However, her decision was not distributed until Aug. 24.