Former Kingston gym teacher found not guilty at sexual assault retrial

A former Ontario Hockey League billet and gym teacher has been found not guilty at his retrial for historical sexual crimes against two former students.

Neil Joynt, 79, accused in incidents dating back to 1962

Lawyer Oliver Abergel, left, and Neil Joynt, right, stand outside the courthouse in Napanee, Ont., on Tuesday. (Frédéric Pepin/CBC)

A former junior hockey billet and gym teacher from Kingston, Ont., has been found not guilty at his retrial for historical sexual crimes against two former students.

Neil Joynt, 79, burst into tears Tuesday when a judge in Napanee, Ont., declared him not guilty on one count each of indecent assault and indecent assault on a male, and two counts of sexual assault.

Joynt was accused of molesting two of his students when he was a gym teacher, one in 1962 at his parents' home in Battersea, Ont., near Kingston, and the other in 1974 during a camping trip to Big Rideau Lake near Smiths Falls, Ont. The students were 13 and 14 years of age at the time. Their names remain protected by a publication ban.

Joynt was arrested in 2013 based on complaints spanning three decades. In October 2016, a jury found Joynt guilty of two counts of indecent assault against a male, but not guilty of a separate charge stemming from an alleged sexual assault in the 1980s. In April 2017, Joynt was sentenced to eight months in jail.

Trial judge made error

His lawyers appealed the ruling and in October 2018 a panel of judges overturned the conviction, finding the Crown had asked the jury to review statements from complainants that should have been ruled inadmissible, an error the trial judge neither caught nor corrected. Joynt was granted a new trial.

In the ruling Tuesday, Justice Patrick Hurley said there was a lack of reliability regarding the evidence presented by the complainants, and expressed doubt about one complainant's memory.

Oliver Abergel, Joynt's lawyer, said he and his client were pleased with Hurley's decision.

"It was a very reasoned, very careful and detailed judgment of the evidence," Abergel said. "Mr. Joynt has always maintained he did not do this. He never did this, and he does feel vindicated today."