Hung jury in Button trial
New trial expected in Inuvik sex case

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 26/00) - After deliberating for more than six hours May 17, a Yellowknife Supreme Court jury was unable to reach a verdict on charges against Dave Button.

Button, a resident of Inuvik, faces charges of indecent assault on a teenage male, gross indecency and attempted buggery.

The charges relate to allegations that date back to 1971-78, when Button was a guidance counsellor at Samuel Hearne high school.

It will take several months and a new trial to determine the outcome of the sex crimes case involving a longtime Inuvik educator and a former student.

Evidence heard in a 1998 sexual assault case against Paul Leroux, a supervisor at Grollier Hall, a former residential school in Inuvik, led to an investigation of Button and the subsequent charges.

Button took the stand in his own defence Tuesday, May 16.

"He was a guidance counsellor at the time, he remembered (the complainant) as his student and he'd seen him in his office on a number of occasions on referral from other teachers," defence lawyer Adrian Wright said of Button's testimony.

The jury began deliberating the case at 10 a.m., and court was reconvened at 1:30 p.m. as the jurors sought clarification on the charge of indecent assault.

Another sign of difficulty reaching a verdict came after five-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Justice Richard reconvened the court to tell the Crown and defence the jury felt they may not be able to make a decision.

They went back into the jury room but returned to the court at about 5 p.m., looking fatigued, and without a verdict.

At that point it was clear that further deliberations were futile.

Jurors were reminded upon release from their duties that all deliberations are to be kept secret.

A new trial will likely take place in the fall in Yellowknife.

Button is currently not in custody.