Nova Scotia

Dale Rancourt, known as Klutzy the Clown, pleads guilty to sex assault of girl

Dale Rancourt, the Cape Breton entertainer known as Klutzy the Clown, has pleaded guilty to sexual assault in a case involving a girl under 16.

Rancourt will be sentenced May 31 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Sydney

Children's entertainer Dale Rancourt, also known as Klutzy the Clown, is seen as he entered court this morning. (Yvonne LeBlanc Smith/CBC)

The Cape Breton children's entertainer known as Klutzy the Clown pleaded guilty in a Sydney courtroom this morning to sexual assault and breaching his bail conditions.

As he entered Nova Scotia Supreme Court, 51-year-old Dale Rancourt said he was "terribly remorseful."

Rancourt was charged in October 2016 with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference involving a girl who was 15.

Sexual contact began in 2016

According to the agreed statement of facts presented in court, the incidents began on July 17, 2016, when Rancourt kissed the girl on the lips. In the days that followed, it progressed to touching her buttocks and breasts.

They began having sexual intercourse in August and had between 10 and 15 encounters. The girl told her mother and sister that they were having sex.

A four-day trial was expected to begin today, but instead Rancourt pleaded guilty to sexual assault and violating his bail conditions. The Crown dropped the remaining charges.

Victim relieved

Crown attorney Shane Russell said the young victim is relieved, as is her family.

"Certainly relieved that he has accepted responsibility for his actions, that she doesn't have to testify and go through this process further," he said. "It takes a lot of pressure off of the victim."

Rancourt will return to court May 31 for sentencing.

Dale Rancourt in costume. (Facebook)

Speaking with reporters following the court proceeding, defence lawyer Tony Mozvik said Rancourt "always wanted to take responsibility for what occurred and this was the day that allowed him to do so."

Rancourt wants to move on

"There are mixed feelings, but at the end of the day he simply wants to put this behind himself and move on with his life and take his lumps, so to speak."

Mozvik said the sexual assault charge was "a more appropriate charge given the facts of this case."

After his arrest in October, Rancourt was released on several conditions after posting a $20,000 bond secured by his house and property.

A few weeks later, he was arrested for allegedly breaching two of his release conditions, including being in a place where people under the age of 18 are usually present. The Crown then opposed his release and Rancourt has been in custody since November.

Russell said sentences in such cases are between a mandatory minimum of one year and 14 years.

He said the Crown expects to recommend a two-year federal sentence in addition to the time he has spent in custody.

With files from Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith