Former health chief awaits sentencing
Sexual assault hearing draws emotional response

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 29/97) - The victim of sexual assault left a Yellowknife courtroom shaken after calling his abuser a "bastard" when the man approached him during a Supreme Court hearing.

His family members cried tears of anger in court when the abuser attempted to apologize face-to-face.

Former executive director of Mackenzie Regional Health Services, Nelson McClelland is awaiting sentencing for indecent assault and sexual assault on a young male.

On Wednesday, Justice Virginia Schuler heard testimony from the victim of the crimes and a psychiatrist as well as hearing a statement from McClelland.

At one point during his statement, McClelland approached the area where the victim and his family were sitting, to apologize directly to the victim.

Visibly upset, the common-law wife of the victim ran from the courtroom just moments into McClelland's statement. She was followed by another family member.

McClelland attempted to continue with his statement, but was called back to defence table when the shaken victim left the courtroom shouting, "You bastard."

During his statement, McClelland admitted his guilt. "I'm taking full responsibility for my actions and the poor choices I made in the past," said McClelland.

McClelland admitted in January that he was guilty of sexually assaulting a young male victim from January 1983 to December 1987.

He also pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the same boy from June to September of 1982.

The assaults included sexual touching, masturbation and oral sex performed on both victim and offender.

The victim was between the ages of 13 and 18 when the crimes took place.

The victim came forward and told police about the abuse last November. When asked why it took so long to report the crime, the victim said during his testimony "Nelson was like a father to me."

McClelland played a major role in the life of the victim, stepping in as a father figure after the death of the victim's father in early 1992. The assaults began shortly after that.

The victim also said he was reluctant to give up the close friendships he had in the rest of the McClelland family and didn't want to cause hurt and anger.

Since his guilty plea in January, McClelland has been free on bail. He has attended a southern treatment clinic for sexual addiction and has been avoiding any public places where pre-pubescent or pubescent boys might be. He has been undergoing treatment with a local psychiatrist.

The Crown is seeking at least four years in a penitentiary, given the circumstances -- McClelland's position of authority, previous criminal history, offences committed while on probation for a previous sexual offence and period of time over which the offences were committed.

McClelland was convicted in 1985 of sexually assaulting two young boys. He received a suspended sentence plus three years probation for that offence.

The defence is asking for a maximum of two years so the sentence may be served within the community, reasoning that McClelland admitted his guilt right after charges were laid.

Schuler scheduled sentencing for Tuesday afternoon. He will remain free on bail until then.