Ex-Nunavut teacher accused of eight child sex charges goes to trial in Gjoa Haven
Ben Kogvic, 57, faces eight charges involving five separate complainants
This week in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut Justice Robert Reilly began to preside over a trial of a former teacher who faces eight sex-related charges alleged to have taken place in his Kitikmeot community.
Kogvik, 57, is an ex-teacher who once worked at Kekertak Ilihakvik School in Gjoa Haven. He is now listed as an employee of the Nunavut Water Board, where he has worked since the late 1990s.
Most of the eight charges are “historical” in nature, and involve touching for a sexual purpose. Two of the complainants allege the inappropriate touching occurred inside the school.
The trial now underway stems from a 2012 ruling by Nunavut Justice Bonnie Tulloch that the eight sex charges against Kognic, involving five complainants, all under the age of consent at the time of the allegations, should get a single jury trial.
Following a preliminary inquiry that committed Kogvik to trial on the eight charges, his lawyer, Paul Falvo, had applied to have the single trial severed into five separate trials: one for each complainant.
To support this, he maintained there was danger that a jury could use evidence from one complainant to unfairly convict Kogvik on charges involving another complainant.
He also said the eight charges related to “eight distinct events.”
But Tulloch found that holding five separate jury trials in Gjoa Haven could place a nearly impossible burden on the justice system.
And she also found that trying the same person five times in the same small community might actually prejudice the minds of potential jurors.
For those and other reasons, Tulloch ruled Kogvik should receive a single trial.