A B.C. man and former Nunavut educator will stand trial over four charges related to child sex abuse in Qikiqtarjuaq. (File photo)

Former Nunavut teacher faces charges for historic child sex abuse

Nunavut judge dismisses some counts when alleged victim didn’t testify

By Beth Brown

A trial is delayed for a B.C. man who faces charges of historic sex abuse against children in Qikiqtarjuaq—where he worked as an educator in the late 1980s and early 1990s—after two men, who allege that they are victims of abuse, didn’t appear in court last week.

David Wallace Runkle, 67, appeared in the Nunavut Court of Justice on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, where he was set for a four-day judge-alone trial. That was on eight charges related to allegations that he sexually abused two boys under the age of 14 between July 1989 and July 1990.

Runkle worked as both a teacher and a principal at schools in Nunavut’s three regions, which were then part of the Northwest Territories.

But when one victim refused to testify at the time of trial, on Feb. 12, Nunavut Judge Paul Bychok dismissed four out of eight charges that Runkle faced.

The dismissed charges were for sexual assault, sexual touching of a minor, soliciting sexual favours from a minor, and sexual touching while in a position of authority over a minor.

“All incidents of sexual abuse whether perpetrated on a child or an adult are traumatic. It is difficult and painful for victims of sexual violence to come forward and to speak about these unspeakable acts in public,” Bychok said, on Feb. 12, after the Crown had made multiple attempts to have their witness testify.

“This court does not want to be involved in the re-victimization of potential victims,” Bychok said.

A trial for the remaining four charges was adjourned and a new trial date will be set on March 4. That’s after a second alleged abuse victim was unable to make a flight to Iqaluit for the trial.

Those charges are for sexual assault, assault, touching a minor for a sexual purpose with one’s penis, and the same sexual touching while in a position of authority over a minor.

Runkle was previously convicted, in 1996 through the B.C. court system, for seven counts of historic abuse, including sexual abuse, against children. One charge was from Whale Cove, one from Cambridge Bay, two were from Taloyoak and three from Broughton Island, which is today called Qikiqtarjuaq.

Runkle is living in Victoria, B.C. He appeared in court wearing a blue sweatsuit and glasses, and had a grey goatee. A warrant for his arrest in relation to these charges dates to March 2017. He has been on bail since May 2017, after his bail was set at $1,000 for each set of charges.

He is under court orders not to interact with anyone under the age of 18.

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