Nova Scotia

More sex abuse claims against Halifax man likely, says lawyer

A lawyer representing two men who allege they were abused by a former teacher and volunteer coach says there are probably many more victims out there.

Michael Patrick McNutt faces 27 charges for alleged historical assaults

Michael Patrick McNutt is charged with 14 counts of gross indecency and 13 counts of indecent assault — the charge that was in effect in the Criminal Code at the time of the alleged offences. (Olivier Lefebvre/Radio-Canada)

A lawyer representing two men who allege they were abused by a former teacher and volunteer coach says there are probably many more victims out there.

Last month, Halifax Regional Police announced charges against Michael Patrick McNutt, 66, for alleged historical sexual assaults.

There are 27 charges involving 13 alleged victims. The charges are from the 1970s and 80s when McNutt worked and coached in the Halifax area.

"I wasn't terribly surprised," Halifax lawyer Mike Dull said. "I mean the whispers of his inappropriate behaviour have been ongoing in the Halifax community for a long time."

Hockey, baseball organizations among defendants

Dull's clients are involved among six civil lawsuits that have been launched against McNutt, in addition to the criminal charges.

The suits also name the Halifax Regional School Board — as it was known at the time — along with hockey and baseball organizations as defendants.

Because the allegations in both the civil and criminal cases involve sexual assaults, the identities of the complainants are protected by publication bans.

McNutt has already been convicted of sex offences in relation to one of Dull's clients. The other client is among the 13 men who are included in the latest batch of charges.

In the case that was already dealt with, McNutt pleaded guilty before trial.

"My client … was not terribly pleased with the sentence," Dull said. "There was no jail time.

"And so, speaking on his behalf, he's pleased to see that Mr. McNutt will be back before the court and, hopefully, he will receive a stronger sentence."

'Validation and compensation'

Dull said his clients launched their civil lawsuits because they are looking for "validation."

"They know that as children they were harmed and they know that they were connected, those experiences were connected to his involvement as a hockey coach, baseball coach, teacher," Dull said.

"And so they sought two things: validation and compensation."

Dull won't say how much compensation his clients would seek from McNutt and insurance companies for the various other parties.

He said both lawsuits are still in the discovery phase with witnesses being interviewed and documents being exchanged. He estimates it will be two years before either case ends up in court.

He said he's also been approached by other men who may be interested in launching lawsuits of their own.

In some of the six civil suits that have already been filed, lawyers for the school board, now the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, and the Halifax Hawks Minor Hockey Association have already replied in writing. They deny any liability for anything McNutt is alleged to have done.

McNutt due back in court this month

CBC News reached out to the centre of education and the sporting organizations.

The centre of education replied with an emailed statement, saying it welcomed the police investigation and was co-operating fully. Neither the Hawks nor Baseball Nova Scotia responded to CBC's request for comment.

McNutt is due back in provincial court later this month to answer to the latest criminal charges.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca