Denis Hall, convicted sex offender, drops from Catholic school board race
Denis R. Hall is seen here in this candidate photo from the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools website. (gscs.ca)
Published Tuesday, October 18, 2016 1:12PM CST
A man with past convictions for sexual offences says he’s dropping out of the race for a Catholic school board trustee position in Saskatoon — though his name will remain on the ballot.
Denis Hall issued a news release Monday night announcing his withdrawal and blamed media stories surrounding his candidacy for the decision.
“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,” his statement read.
His name will stay on the ballot — and he could still end up being elected — because now is too late for a candidate to withdraw, according to the election’s returning officer. The election is already underway with advance polls.
Hall was convicted of sexual offences in 1981. According to court documents, he pleaded guilty and was convicted of two charges relating to him having sex with girls between the ages of 14 and 16 and two charges of indecent assault on females.
He said in his statement the guilty plea was related to actions during his time as the coach of a girls’ basketball team sponsored by a Regina church in the 1970s.
He served one year in the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre following the conviction and received a pardon for the offences in 1994.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon issued a statement Monday, before Hall’s withdrawal, saying officials were concerned about Hall running and that his convictions would bar him from working with vulnerable people in the diocese.
"An important question to ask is whether Mr. Hall could enter into a relationship with others where the bonds of trust can be easily developed and sustained so that the good work of proclaiming the message of the gospel can easily and naturally take place," the diocese’s acting administrator Father Kevin McGee said in a written statement.
“When I consider such questions in light of Denis Hall and his desire to serve as a Catholic trustee, I have reason for serious concern that Mr. Hall is not suited for this position,” he said, noting Hall met the legal qualifications to run as a candidate.
The Greater Saskatoon Catholic School board also commented prior to Hall’s departure, stating the division cannot prevent him from running because he is a qualified candidate.
“Mr. Hall qualifies as a candidate under the Local Government Elections Act, 2015. The school division has no legal recourse and is bound by the legislation,” a statement from the school division read.
“We are aware of Mr. Hall’s criminal convictions, and we have taken steps over the years to prevent him and his organization, YAS, from having access to students and our buildings. We will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of our students in the future.”
Hall ran for the same trustee position in 2003 but was unsuccessful.
--- with files from CTV Saskatoon’s Angelina Irinici and Jennifer Jellicoe