News / Canada

Sex offender drops out of race for Saskatoon Catholic school board

SASKATOON — A Saskatoon man with past convictions for sex offences has dropped out of the race for Catholic school trustee.

Denis Robert Hall released a statement late Monday night saying publicity surrounding his past has made it impossible to continue.

Hall was convicted in 1981 of two charges of having sexual intercourse with girls aged 14 to 16 and two charges of indecent assault against girls.

The victims were members of a basketball team he coached in the Regina Church Basketball Association.

Hall received a pardon in 1994.

Hall says what he calls his "ancient past" has been misrepresented and cast in the worst possible light.

"The use of the terms 'pedophile' and 'sexual assault' by the mainstream media are completely and categorically false," he wrote. "They misrepresent me and my ancient past in the worst possible light and render untenable my continuance as a candidate, as well as my ability to serve on the board should I have been elected."

Although Hall said he has worked primarily with indigenous youth throughout his career, his statement said none of his offences involved "youth of indigenous or otherwise disadvantaged circumstances, but rather youths from strong and well-established families."

Catholic officials had expressed concern about Hall's candidacy. Father Kevin McGee, acting administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, questioned whether Hall could build a trusting relationship with other board members and the community.

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said in a statement that it had no legal recourse to stop Hall from running, but would take "the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of our students in the future."

Hall said his teaching privileges were temporarily suspended, but he later built a successful career as a teacher and principal. Now, he suggested the publicity means he may not be able to continue living in Saskatoon.

"Just like I have been throughout these 36 years, I am also sorry for the duress and pain my candidacy has caused anyone," he wrote. "I never foresaw that after all these years and my work to rehabilitate and be a valued contributing member of society."

— With files from CKOM