August 13 - 20, 1998. Vol. 32, No. 1599

Glen Korstrom

p. 12.

Leroux Admits Taking Pics of Boys

A former Canadian Human Rights Commission regional director has admitted in an Inuvik courtroom that he took pictures of naked boys, but denied he ever used the photos for sexual purposes. While testifying on August 11 in Northwest Territories Supreme Court, Vancouver resident Paul Leroux, 58, emphasized that he never showed photos of naked Grollier Hall residential-school boys to others and said he has destroyed all the photos he took. Like some of his alleged victims at the school where he worked from 1967 to 1979, Leroux cried while giving testimony. Leroux's tears came after he was asked to sift through photo albums that Vancouver police confiscated from his 1800-block Haro Street apartment in Vancouver on March 26, 1997.

Leroux has pleaded guilty to nine counts of gross indecency in connection with incidents between 1967 and 1979 at the residential school in Inuvik. Though the Crown has dismissed 17 charges against Leroux, he still faces 12 charges of sexual abuse in connection with incidents that allegedly took place at the school. He has pleaded not guilty, and closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday (August 13).

Both the Crown and the defence agree that Leroux invited teenagers to his room at Grollier Hall, where he gave them food and alcohol while providing pornography. He then participated in genital fondling and orial sex with the boys. Where the Crown and the defence differ is on the extent of Leroux's criminal behaviour, whether or not he photographed sex acts, and how young some of his alleged victims were.

Speaking softly but evenly for more than four hours on the stand on August 11, Leroux admitted it was wrong to have sex with nine teenage boys, and he has pleaded guilty because he believes his acts were criminal. He then denied having sexual contact with the other 11 complainants, as well as suggestions that he offered promises of favouritism, or that he threatened those who turned down his sexual overtures.

"I saw them as more adult than they were," Leroux said after explaining he mixed worship and affection. His aim, he said, was "making them happy, making them feel good." A little later he said, "This does not excuse it but provides some insight."

Leroux, who was raised as a devout Roman Catholic in Granby, Quebec, said he was sexually abused as a teenager when he sang in the church choir. Still, he said that he did not understand the dynamics of sexual abuse when he worked at Grollier Hall.

Earlier in the trial, several complainants gave damning Crown testimony. One man said Leroux held a knife to him when he was a boy and forced him to perform acts. Many mentioned a pattern escalating from hugs and kisses to genital fondling to oral sex, and in case to anal sex.

According to one witness, who can't be identified because of a publication ban, Leroux held a knife and told him to tell no one of their acts of oral sex and attempts to introduce him to anal sex. There was no anal sex because the boy said "it would be too sore." The witness said that he went to the washroom and vomited after he was forced to perform oral sex.

The alleged victim could not recall his age at the time, but said that Leroux took photographs afterward, when the witness was wearing either pyjamas or nothing at all. The complainant identified himself in a photograph seized in the Vancouver apartment search.

Sometimes, the alleged victim said, he went to Leroux's room voluntarily for money. "Paul was a nice guy," said another Crown witness, who said he gave Leroux oral sex. "He was a friendly guy. I wasn't scared to be in there. I liked Paul to visit with."

Under cross-examination, the latter witness agreed with Leroux's lawyer, Jim Brydon, who suggested the witness's "entire memory [of the alleged abuse] was made up with patches of nonmemory."

"That's fair to say," the witness, who, like most witnesses who have testified to date, blanked out memories of the alleged abuse for about two decades.

Leroux denied ever making contact with the North American Man-Boy Love Association, despite the organization's Web site being in his computer cache. The defence held Leroux had simply visited the Web site, while the Crown held that he had downloaded material.

In 1979, he was convicted of molesting a boy in Inuvik. Leroux was hired by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Vancouver in the early 1980s, becoming regional director in 1988. He remained in that post until four years ago, when he began contracting his services as a freelance investigator to CHRC and to the B.C. Human Rights Council (now the B.C. Human Rights Commission). The Georgia Straight has previously reported that Leroux obtained a federal pardon in 1990 for his 1979 conviction. After a pardon is granted, an offender's criminal history is wiped clean, so that not even police can find out if there has been a conviction.

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Created: August 24, 1998
Last modified: August 25, 1998

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