News / Hamilton

Halton sailing instructor accused of sex assault released on bail

A 31-year-old sailing instructor accused of molesting six former students while they were boys has been released from custody under strict conditions, including house arrest.

The number of sexual assault-related charges against Sean Hewson, of Ancaster, has grown to 20 after two more were sworn Thursday.

The details of the case that emerged at the bail hearing in Milton Thursday and the reasons for justice of the peace Paul Macphail’s decision cannot be shared because of a publication ban.

The names of the six alleged victims — four who came forward together initially and two who called police after news of the investigation broke last week — are also banned from publication.

All charges relate to alleged incidents between 2003 and 2009 while the accused worked in a volunteer position with the Burlington Sailing and Boating Club.

Wearing a grey golf shirt, tan pants and holding a black sweater over his arm, Hewson sat in the prisoner’s box. His hands and ankles were cuffed. He stared straight ahead for most of the proceedings, only showing emotion when his mother cried on the witness stand.

His father and younger brother also appeared in court to support Hewson, and all three family members were approved as sureties to make sure he follows bail conditions. Collectively they have $50,000 on the line, as a surety bond against breaching conditions.

Hewson’s family declined to comment, but outside of court his lawyer Kaley Hepburn said her client will “most definitely” be pleading not guilty.

“His family is devastated, obviously he is devastated as well,” she said, adding that her client is suffering anxiety from the shock of being in custody.

Hewson comes from a loving, stable f amily and has no criminal record, she said.

Hepburn had been seeking slightly less restrictive bail conditions but said she was satisfied with the terms and believes they were made with the perceived safety of society in mind.

Outside of court, one of the Halton police child abuse and sex assault investigators assigned to the case said police are satisfied with the court decision, despite the fact they had opposed bail from the outset.

Detective Constable Ross Amore stressed that it is still “early days” in the investigation and police expect more alleged victims will come forward.

Hewson was with the Burlington club for about a decade, before moving to the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club two years ago.

He was asked to leave Bronte last week.

He was also put on leave from his job as a regional manager of first aid for the Canadian Red Cross, and as a life-saving instructor for the YMCA of Burlington. Hewson also worked for the City of Burlington from 1999 to 2010.

Hewson is scheduled to return to court June 25.

Anyone with information is asked to call Halton police at 905465-8760.

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