Nova Scotia

Former Halifax-area teacher charged with 64 more sex offences

A former Halifax-area teacher and sports coach already accused of multiple historical sex crimes against young people has now been charged with 64 more counts involving 20 alleged victims.

Michael Patrick McNutt facing multiple historical sex charges involving youth

Michael Patrick McNutt, a former Halifax-area teacher and sports coach, is shown leaving Dartmouth provincial court in January after being arraigned on multiple sex-related charges. (CBC)

A former Halifax-area teacher and sports coach already accused of multiple historical sex crimes against young people has now been charged with 64 new counts involving 20 alleged victims.

Among the new charges for 66-year-old Michael Patrick McNutt are 21 counts of gross indecency, 16 counts of sexual assault and 13 counts of indecent assault, Halifax Regional Police said in a news release Wednesday.

The charges relate to alleged incidents involving youth in the 1970s and 1980s in the Halifax area, with exception to two incidents in other other parts of Nova Scotia.

Police have identified 20 complainants related to the latest charges. This is in addition to the alleged 13 victims police identified earlier this year.

Police said they believe there are more.

"We want victims to know they will not be judged, and will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect throughout the entire investigative process," police said in the news release.

Police said McNutt was arrested at Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Wednesday morning. He has since been released and is scheduled to appear in provincial court at a later date. The court date has not yet been released.

Allegations date back to 1970s 

Police said the investigation into McNutt began in October 2016, after several people came forward to report historical sexual assaults that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s in the Halifax region. 

McNutt was subsequently arrested on Jan. 23, 2019 in Halifax, police said.

McNutt worked as a math and science teacher with the Halifax Regional School Board, now known as the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, for four years. He left teaching in 1980 due to alcoholism, worked at a Wendy's, and then returned as a substitute teacher until 1994.

In a pre-sentence report prepared in the case, McNutt confided to the probation officer conducting the interview that he had a prior conviction for a sex offence in 1994. McNutt told the officer he received three months probation and subsequently was granted a pardon, meaning there was no trace of the conviction.

McNutt has been charged with 64 additional sex offences. (Olivier Lefebvre/Radio-Canada)

McNutt, police said, was in a position of trust as a teacher, coach and volunteer at the time of the alleged offences.

There are also six civil lawsuits against McNutt alleging sexual abuse pending in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Each person suing is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.

'They were particularly vulnerable'

In one suit, one Halifax man — a student who played in the Halifax Hawks Minor Hockey Association — alleges McNutt sexually abused him close to 100 times at an arena and at a Halifax school between 1985 and 1989.

That man is also suing the school board, now the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, and the Halifax Hawks Minor Hockey Association.

The suit alleges the school board and the hockey association were responsible for McNutt's actions and failed to protect him from being sexually assaulted by McNutt.

In a statement of defence, the school board said it has no knowledge whether the allegations made by the man against McNutt are true.

The board also said it has no knowledge of any assault, or sexual assault, as alleged in the statement of claim and that any such acts were not conducted in the course of McNutt's employment and were not authorized by the board.

In its statement of defence, the Halifax Hawks Minor Hockey Association said that the alleged misconduct by McNutt occurred prior to him being associated with the Halifax Hawks. It asks that the suit be dismissed with costs.

McNutt has filed statements of defence saying the sexual acts and assaults in the complaints never happened.

The allegations in the lawsuits have not been tested in court.

Lawyer Mike Dull, who represents several people who have filed civil suits, says he's not surprised Halifax police have laid new charges.

"[McNutt] was in their lives at a time when they were particularly vulnerable, be it family breakdown or difficulty with school, things like that," said Dull. "My clients would say that he took advantage of that vulnerability."

"I think the fact that the police have seen fit to lay even more charges speaks to the seriousness of it and the scope of it and frankly what can happen when coaches and teachers go unchecked."

With files from Paul Palmeter