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Former hockey coach awaits sentence in decades-old sex assault on boy

Feb 03 2012

A sentencing hearing began Thursday for Richard Lorne Hall, a former Oak Bay Minor Hockey Association coach, charged last year with a historical indecent assault upon a 12-year-old boy.

Hall, 52, pleaded guilty in August to the offence, which began in 1979 and ended three years later. After listening to submissions from Crown prosecutor Christine Lowe and defence counsel Barclay Johnson, Western Communities provincial court Judge Anthony Palmer reserved his decision. A date for the decision will be set next Thursday.

In 1999, Hall was convicted of four counts of sexual assault on four boys between 1983 and 1987. He was sentenced to five years in prison. But in 2000, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to two years to be served in the community, plus three years' probation.

Last year, a fifth victim came forward after seeing a newspaper article about a civil suit launched by one of Hall's victims against the provincial government. West Shore RCMP officers showed the victim a photo line-up. He identified Hall.

"That's him. He'll haunt me for the rest of my life," the man said.

Lowe told the court the abuse began in the summer of 1979 when the boy was 12 and Hall was 20. Hall gave the child money to play games at an arcade on Douglas Street, he took the boy swimming and complimented him on how fit and mature he was.

On one outing, Hall told the boy he would show him "what men do." It was the beginning of escalating sexual assaults against the boy which continued until 1982, said Lowe.

In a victim impact statement, the man, now in his mid-40s, said he still feels ashamed and disgusted with himself. He was a typical kid, until he met Hall. Then he became estranged from his family and friends.

"I can't forgive myself for not running away or telling anyone," he wrote.

Lowe, who described the assaults as egregious and prolonged, asked Palmer to impose a conditional sentence of two years less a day.

"The offence was extremely serious. The child was young. There was an escalation of the nature of the assaults and the effect on the victim was devastating," said Lowe. Johnson asked Palmer to impose a suspended sentence with a 12-month probation period.

It is admitted that Hall is a homosexual pedophile, but Hall has been able to control his level of risk since his release from jail in 1989, Johnson said.

"This offence occurred many years ago. Approximately 30 years have passed since the last date referred to in the indictment," said Johnson.

Twenty-two years ago, Hall participated in the sexual offender program at Stave Lake Institution and he has not committed any offence since, Johnson said.

Psychological reports show that Hall is at low-risk of reoffending, Johnson said. Hall is a victim himself, since he was sexually abused by an uncle at the age of 14, the lawyer said.

At the age of 32, Hall married and had three children. He supported his family until his arrest in February 1997. At that point, the relationship ended and his children ended up in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Johnson said.

Hall continues to suffer from crimes committed 30 years ago, Johnson told the court. He has lost most of his friends and his job. In 2011, he had been working as a valued employee for the Cool Aid Housing Society for nine years. When his past criminal convictions surfaced in the media, he was dismissed.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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