Four former Nuiyak school students testify at Johnny Meeko trial

Mother and daughter, and 3 students from the same grade, testify at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit

Johnny Meeko, left, leaves the Iqaluit courthouse with lawyer James Morton during his trial in 2015. Meeko, a former teacher in Sanikiluaq, is now on trial for new sex-related criminal charges. The trial is taking place at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit until June 9. (File photo)

By Meral Jamal

Four former students of the Nuiyak school in Sanikiluaq testified on the second day of Johnny Meeko’s trial in Iqaluit Wednesday.

Meeko, a former teacher at the school, is facing 18 new sex-related criminal charges.

He previously served a nine-year prison sentence after being convicted on charges related to sexual abuse of children.

Witnesses who testified Wednesday are among the 11 complainants against Meeko.

Three were in the same grade at the Nuiyak school, where Meeko was their teacher in 1996 when they were between the ages of eight and nine years old and entering the third grade.

Two of the witnesses were a mother and daughter.

The witnesses shared their experiences about six of the charges, four of which were in relation to allegations of sexual assault of a person under the age of 14.

They said Meeko assaulted them in different ways, sexually touching them on various parts of their bodies both over and under their clothes. As well, they said, he spanked students on their birthdays and asked sex-related questions.

The complainants also explained their reasons for coming forward to police with their allegations, saying Meeko told them at the time of the alleged assaults not to confide in anyone else about their experiences.

One of the women said Meeko threatened her, saying he would assault her mother if she publicly spoke of how she said he had assaulted her.

Each of the witnesses said they contacted the RCMP between 2011 and 2018 to report what had happened to them.

One of them said she did it because she was worried for her own daughter, who was entering kindergarten at Nuiyak school in 2012.

Though Meeko had retired in 2009, the witness said she had heard from a family member that he might be returning to the school on contract.

“I didn’t want [my daughter] to go through the same thing,” she said.

Another said she felt very uncomfortable at the time but thought “[Meeko] was just playing around” for many years. The complainant said she spoke to the RCMP only in 2018, having confided in her sister who is also involved in this trial shortly after.

Court adjourned for the day following the four witnesses’ testimony.

It will resume Thursday with testimonies from other complainants and continue at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit through June 9.


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