Law society says man who sexually abused children is of ‘good character,’ eligible to be lawyer

The Law Society of Ontario has granted a man the opportunity to practice law, finding him of “good character” even though he admitted to sexually abusing young children, including one of his own, in 2009.

A law society tribunal heard the case of the man, who was only identified as AA, ultimately granting him the opportunity to apply for a licence with the stipulation that he not meet with minor children while unsupervised.

The tribunal lasted six days.

The man had previously applied for a licence in 2012, but later withdrew his application after allegations about his behaviour came to light.

In justifying its decision, the panel concluded: “the nature and extent of the behaviour was severe, but that based on his remorse, rehabilitative efforts, the fact that there had not been further incidents of abuse since 2009 and the significant passage of time, he has established that he is currently of good character and is eligible to be licensed …”

The man was never criminally charged, but the tribunal stated that “It is undisputed that in 2009, during a two-month period, on three occasions, he engaged in acts of sexual abuse of minor children, including one of his children, that involved touching them and being touched by them while clothed.”

“His conduct came to light when the father of one of the children confronted him. The applicant spoke with a religious leader and a social worker and disclosed what had happened to them, his then-wife, and the local child protection agency.

“He was not criminally charged, began to take medication to curb his sexual dysfunction and was subject to supervision when around children, including his own, for a few months.”

The man’s admitted behaviour led him to abandon religious studies and he shifted his focus to law, eventually completing his legal education.

“In his first application to be licensed as a lawyer in 2012, the applicant did not initially disclose any of the events of 2009. An anonymous letter prompted the Law Society to launch an investigation,” eventually leading AA to withdraw his application.

The tribunal outlined the efforts AA made to change, including seeking treatment with a psychologist and participating in group therapy.

“The psychiatrist diagnosed the applicant as suffering from a paedophilic disorder in remission. While he had symptoms in the past, he no longer has the signs and symptoms,” the tribunal reads.

The tribunal also found that he was genuinely remorseful saying, “we accept that since then he has confronted his past, been candid and that he lives with remorse.”

“In the present case, we are persuaded that the applicant has established he is currently a person of good character and that his application for an L1 licence should be granted. We have also considered his offer of an undertaking not to meet in unsupervised settings with minor children and conclude that public confidence in the regulation of lawyers and paralegals would be enhanced by a term that requires that he not do so.”

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