Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Convicted pedophile Denis Hall running for Catholic school board

Denis Hall, a convicted pedophile, is running for a seat on the Saskatoon Catholic school board. A candidate running for a seat on the Saskatoon Catholic school board is a pedophile, CBC News has learned.

Church officials say they will ask the candidate, Denis Robert Hall, to withdraw from the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools race, but they stopped short of taking further action.

"I have reason for serious concern that Denis is not suited for this position," Rev. Kevin McGee, acting administrator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, said in an interview Saturday. 

Bishop Don Bolen was installed as Archbishop of the Regina diocese Friday. 

In 1981, Hall was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He'd pleaded guilty to four of the eight charges against him for indecent assault and having sex with females aged 14 to 16, according to a 2003 Saskatoon StarPhoenix report. The crimes occurred in the mid-to-late-1970s in Regina, Swift Current and Melfort.

He also made an out-of-court payment to one of the victims to settle a lawsuit, stated the report. In 1994, Hall received a pardon because he had not been convicted of any further offenses to that point.

Banned from entering Catholic schools in city

Should Hall refuse to step down, it's unclear whether he'll be able to participate in Tuesday's all-candidates' debate at E.D. Feehan High School. In 2002, Hall was banned from entering any Saskatoon Catholic schools.
'We've been working hard over the last 15 years to rebuild trust in the general community. So we are obliged to discern very carefully situations like this.' - Blake Sittler
McGee said he tried unsuccessfully to reach Hall over the weekend. CBC News has also been unable to contact Hall.

Blake Sittler, who oversees the church's "safe environment" policy, also expressed his concern.

"We've been working hard over the last 15 years to rebuild trust in the general community. So we are obliged to discern very carefully situations like this," Sittler said.

Sittler and McGee expressed their concern for Hall's victims, but Sittler said they had no power to ban people like Hall from seeking election.

Diocese lawyer Dick Batten corrected him. Batten admitted in an interview they do have the power to ban sexual predators from the Catholic school board.

Victim called for reforms

One of Hall's victims and other critics called for reforms in 2003 when Hall tried to run for the same position.

"I look at him as being kind of like a cancer that was in remission for 22 years and it's back and I've got to fight it all over again," the woman told the StarPhoenix at that time.

There is a code of ethics for the province's Catholic school trustees. It states trustees shall live in a way "that reflects the teachings of the Church."

Ken Loehndorf, executive director of the Saskatchewan Association of Catholic School Divisions said the code is voluntary. He said individual divisions must set their own policy, and isn't sure regulations are warranted.

"People choose to run. You hope the electorate understands the situation," Loehndorf said.

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