Preliminary inquiry starts for Nunavut carver facing decades-old sex charges
Pond Inlet's Billy Merkosak facing 50 charges from 1970s and 1980s
A preliminary hearing for a prominent Inuit carver charged with multiple historical sexual abuses stemming from Pond Inlet got under way March 31 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
Billy Merkosak, 47, along with lawyers and Justice Earl Johnson, listened to evidence March 31 from four witnesses flown in from Pond Inlet for the week-long hearing.
The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to justify sending a case to trial.
Evidence heard at preliminary hearings may not be published or broadcast until the court has finished dealing with the charges.
Merkosak faces a total of 50 counts arising from incidents alleged to have occurred form the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
The charges include:
• 18 indecent assaults;
• 11 charges of buggery;
• seven common assaults;
• six charges of administering a noxious thing;
• five sexual assaults;
• two acts of gross indecency; and.
• one charge of touching a child under the age of 14 for a sexual purpose.
Merkosak is currently free on bail. Crown prosecutor Jay Potter said one of his conditions is he cannot return to Pond Inlet while the case is before the courts.
Merkosak is internationally known for his sculptures. Some sell for thousands of dollars each.
Merkosak appeared in court with thick, black-rimmed glasses and wore a grey track top and tan pants.
Five other witnesses are expected to take the stand tomorrow. Potter said the hearing could wrap up April 2.