Nova Scotia

Former teacher's trial on historical sex charges postponed by the pandemic

The trial of a former Halifax-area school teacher and hockey coach on historical sexual assault charges has been postponed because of COVID-19. Jaddus Joseph Poirer, 79, was scheduled to begin a six-day trial on Monday.

Jaddus Joseph Poirier, 79, one of two former teachers charged in 2019 by Halifax police

Jaddus Poirier is seen leaving Dartmouth provincial court on April 11, 2019. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

The trial of a former Halifax-area school teacher and hockey coach on historical sexual assault charges has been postponed because of COVID-19.

Jaddus Joseph Poirier, 79, was scheduled to begin a six-day, judge-alone trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Monday. But Poirier's lawyer, Ian Hutchison, said his client is in frail health and is worried about exposure to COVID-19.

Hutchinson told Justice Richard Couglan Wednesday that Poirer told him that if he gets the virus, "he's a goner." Hutchison said Poirier's condition has deteriorated since he was charged in April 2019 and he now has vision problems and relies on a wheelchair.

Once Coughlan granted the adjournment, the hunt began for new trial dates. The search was complicated by the fact other pandemic postponements have caused lawyers' court schedules to be filled up.

They finally tentatively settled on starting the trial on Aug. 16, but that will require new Crowns to take over as the two currently assigned to the file have a scheduling conflict.

Before settling on the August dates, the search for alternate trial dates was starting to stretch into 2022 and the judge expressed concerns about staying within the time limits established by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Poirier was one of two teachers caught as part of Program Apollo, an investigation by Halifax Regional Police into allegations of historical sexual abuse. The other teacher, Michael Patrick McNutt, pleaded guilty last year to dozens of sex charges and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Poirier was originally accused by three young men, but charges involving one of the complainants was dismissed last year. None of the allegations he still faces, which date to the 1980s, has been proven in court.

Poirier was a teacher and volunteer hockey coach in the Halifax area from 1984 to 2002. He remains free on conditions while he awaits his trial.

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