‘More than a hundred times’: Witness in Meeko trial alleges numerous assaults

Johnny Meeko, a former school teacher in Sanikiluaq, faces 18 sex-related criminal charges brought forth by 11 former students

Johnny Meeko, shown here outside the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit last week, faces 18 sex-related criminal charges. His trial began May 23. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Meral Jamal

One of Johnny Meeko’s former students testified Friday that she was sexually touched by Meeko on numerous occasions, sometimes in front of her classmates.

The woman, whose identity is protected by law, is one of 11 people who are alleging Meeko abused them when they were his students. They all attended Nuiyak Elementary School in Sanikiluaq over three decades between the 1970s and 2000s.

The former Sanikiluaq teacher is on trial for 18 sex-related criminal charges, four of which were laid in 2019. Fourteen others are being re-tried after Meeko won an appeal for a previous conviction from 2017.

The jury heard from a student who was one of Meeko’s Grade 3 students in the 1990s.

She said Meeko sexually touched her under her shirt “more than a hundred times” and multiple times each day over the course of the school year.

She also said he spanked her nine times while other students watched on the day of her ninth birthday.

Her testimony was similar to those provided by eight other witnesses over the first three days of the trial, which began Tuesday at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.

The witness said she didn’t remember how she felt while Meeko touched her, but that she “didn’t like it.”

“[I] didn’t understand why he was doing that at the time,” she said.

While being cross-examined by Meeko’s lawyer, Ilan Neuman, the former student said she wasn’t sure if Meeko’s touch was meant to be sexual, but she was definitely sure he touched her skin.

The student said her aunt also testified against Meeko earlier this week, alleging she also was abused.

All complainants who have testified over the course of the week 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 all explained their reasons for coming forward to police with their allegations, saying Meeko told them at the time not to confide in anyone else about what was happening.

Friday’s witness said she came forward to the RCMP in 2012 when other people in the community were also bringing allegations against Meeko.

Crown lawyer Abel Dion said the jury will be hearing from three more complainants and three others who are not complainants before the Crown’s witness testimony wraps up.

Meeko’s trial resumes Monday and is scheduled to continue at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit through June 9.


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