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Former teacher, coach Michael McNutt gets 15 years in prison for molesting 34 boys


HALIFAX, N.S. —

One of Michael Patrick McNutt's victims is glad at least some the “torture” is over after the former teacher and sports coach was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison.

“I've been an emotional wreck for over 30 years,” the man, whose identity is protected, said outside Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

“It's been in and out of my life and continually will be, but just hoping for some peace now. That's all.”

McNutt admitted molesting 34 boys who considered him a confidant, a kind of father figure and trusted friend between 1971 and 1989.

Now 67, he pleaded guilty in June to 20 counts of indecent assault, 10 counts of sexual assault and five counts of committing an act of gross indecency.

Justice Jamie Campbell read the particulars of all of the crimes into the record as part of his decision Tuesday, leaving out the names of the victims, who ranged in age from 10 to 15 at the time.

Without getting into the specific details of the assaults, the offences followed a similar pattern: McNutt, in his role as teacher, sports coach or family friend, would invite the boys for parties and overnight stays at his home, in his hotel room during tournament trips or while camping and give them alcohol.

Often, the victims would wake up to McNutt molesting them. Sometimes the incidents involved more than one boy at a time. He also would sometimes have them fill out a sexually suggestive questionnaire.

“The magnitude of what happened to each of these men should not be lost or lessened by being part of such a long list,” Campbell said.

He read a portion of a victim impact statement that described the result of the abuse as creating a “scared, guilty, ashamed child” that remained locked inside the man for the rest of his life, emerging at times to taint all his relationships, personal and professional.

“Your Honour, today I want to welcome that little boy into this court with open arms,” Campbell read from the man's statement. “I want to embrace him fully. I want to tell him it wasn't his fault. I want to tell him he's a good, lovely little boy. I want to tell him that he does deserve happiness and a good life. I want to welcome him home to the light. I want him to know that we've heard him, we believe him, and now we will work to make it up to him. Most of all, Your Honour, I want to tell him that I love him very much. That boy felt alone. He was not alone and he is not alone.”

Campbell said nothing that happens to McNutt in this case of “depraved predation” is going to repair the damage he inflicted or ease the pain of the men and their families.

The victim said after the sentencing that he was relieved McNutt's day of reckoning had finally come.

“I'm very pleased that things went the way they did and now we can just heal and move on, and work from here,” he said.

“A whole lot of emotions. I'm not really sure where to place them at right now, but they were all over the place. But I'm just glad it's finally coming to an end for a lot of people. And hopefully a lot of people have some peace and comfort.”

He said he was hoping for a sentence in the 100-year range. In fact, Campbell said that if all of the sentences for each individual offence were added together, the total would be 120 years.

But the Criminal Code of Canada sentencing guidelines mandate that such an extreme sentence should not be applied and through the “totality” principle, judges should instead consider a sentence in line with what would apply for the most serious of one of the offences.

Considering some of the prison time could be served concurrently and some consecutively, the judge applied sentences for the crimes in four groups: the first group totalled one year, the second group three years, the fourth group four years and the final group seven years.

Altogether, he said in explaining his decision, 15 years was appropriate.

Considering McNutt's age, his victim said, “he ain't getting out.”

Crown attorney Mark Heerema had asked for a 15-year sentence for the Lower Sackville man. Defence lawyer Colin Coady argued that a three- to five-year term would be more appropriate, considering McNutt's age, health – he is a lung cancer survivor and suffers from diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder – and the fact that he pleaded guilty, showing remorse.

Heerema said Tuesday was a difficult day for a lot of people who find it hard to find anything to feel good about.

“It's very difficult to imagine the turmoil that these gentlemen have faced through the decades,”the prosecutor said. “I applaud their strength in being here.

""It's a sorrowful day to have to acknowledge that these things happen in our society, but it's with the strength of victims that these things become uncovered. So today is about their success and their surviving this.”

Coady said the court clearly stated that those who sexually assault children will face significant and severe consequences.

“I think Mr. McNutt really is hoping that his guilty pleas and this sentence will bring a little bit of closure to the families, the communities and the victims that he has harmed,” the defence lawyer said.

McNutt was a victim of sexual abuse himself in his teens and took part in sexual offender treatment after a 1994 conviction, for which he has since been pardoned, the judge said. He has also maintained sobriety in that time and said many of the offences came while he was in the throes of alcoholism.

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