Ed Horne's former Sanikiluaq staff house goes up in smoke

When a house fire is good news


No one in Sanikiluaq shed any tears last week after a suspicious fire ate up the three-bedroom bungalow once used by Ed Horne, the notorious child molester.

"Many former abuse victims can finally release the demons!" a Sanikiluaq resident said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

Horne, now 64, has achieved quasi-mythical status as the eastern Arctic's most reviled pedophile, due to his molestation of numerous Inuit boys when he lived in Sanikiluaq, Cape Dorset, Kimmirut, Iqaluit and Grise Fiord between 1973 and 1985.

Once respected as a brilliant teacher and linguist, Horne taught school in Sanikiluaq in the early to mid-1970s, residing at house 505, which is now burned beyond repair.

The current occupant, the unlucky David Ford, was on vacation when his unit caught fire. Ford, a foreman at the Qulliq Energy Corp.'s power plant in Sanikiluaq, could not be reached for comment last week.

Residents say the blaze started some time before 4:30 a.m. Aug. 11, when firefighters were called.

Local rumours speak of two men who broke into the house at around 3:30 a.m., stole things, then set a fire.

But Cst. Ian Johnson of the Sanikiluaq RCMP detachment cautions there's no evidence that would link the fire to bad memories of Ed Horne, and he also downplayed the break-in rumours.

Johnson did say, however, that the incident is still under investigation.

Many residents appear to regard the fire as a cleansing event, ridding them of a building that's laden with doleful memories. Horne's squalid legacy is an obsession for those who weren't even born when he committed his crimes.

"It was cool to watch the fire. We didn't see anyone crying. A lot of people were relieved," said Jennifer Meeko, 19, of Sanikiluaq.

Horne left Nunavut for good in 1987, but his sexual abuse of Inuit children still generates much work for lawyers and judges.

After a preliminary hearing in late 2005, the Nunavut court ordered him to stand trial on 11 charges – including indecent assault, gross indecency, and buggery – related to incidents alleged to have occurred in Cape Dorset and Sanikiluaq in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

That's the third batch of sex charges to be brought against him. In 1987, Horne went to prison on a six-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to eight charges involving 24 Inuit boys he molested between 1983 and 1985 in Kimmirut and Cape Dorset.

In 2000, Horne received a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to 20 sex offences he committed between 1973 and 1982 in Sanikiluaq, Cape Dorset and Iqaluit.

In 2002, the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut paid $21.5 million in compensation to 85 people who claimed damages flowing from Horne's abuse.

In 2004, a second group of claimants filed a similar suit against the two governments. That case, which led to discovery hearings in 2006 and early 2007, is still before the courts.

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