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Leroux released from jail

Healing circle calls for system to notify public of releases

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Apr 22/02) - Two of the men who initiated a cycle of sexual abuse that still haunts the North are now living as free men in the South.

Notorious Grollier Hall supervisor Paul Leroux began full parole March 11.

Harold "Hal" Banks, a former Fort Good Hope teacher who sexually assaulted students there, has served his time and is reportedly considering returning to the North.

The releases have sparked a protest from the organization started to help deal with the aftermath of the abuse.

The Grollier Hall Healing Circle is calling for the establishment of a system for notifying the public when those convicted of sexual offences in the North are released.

"The circle was very shocked to learn that Paul Leroux was on parole in Vancouver," said executive director Norman Yakeleya.

"If one of his victims goes down to Vancouver -- what happens if he runs into him on the street?"

Though the offences occurred decades ago, the trauma of abuse is still not far from the surface for many of the victims, Yakeleya said.

He said some victims are still subject to the control of abusers, who used their position of authority to commit their offenses.

Leroux, 62, was convicted in 1998 of three counts of indecent assault, attempted buggery, attempted indecent assault and nine counts of gross indecency.

Leroux committed the offences in Inuvik between 1967 and 1979, while he was supervisor of Grollier Hall, the residence for out-of-town boys attending school in the town. His victims were boys ranging in age from 13 to 19.

Under the terms of his parole, Leroux is to avoid any contact with those under the age of 18, not to attend any child-oriented activities, seek employment that would bring him in contact with children or be in possession of child pornography of any kind.

In the reasons for its Dec. 11, 2001, ruling, the National Parole Board said it was satisfied there was a low risk of Leroux re-offending.

A bisexual pedophile, Banks, now 66, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1988 on charges of rape, buggery, attempted bestiality, gross indecency, assault causing bodily harm and indecent assault.

He committed the offences while working as a teacher and principal in Sooke, B.C, and while a teacher at Fort Good Hope.

"We don't want him to offend again," said victim's advocate Harold Cook. "We want to protect our people.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Banks was released on parole in 1996. In 1999 he was sent back to prison for violating the conditions of his parole by offering to babysit a four-year-old boy and offering to rent a room in his residence to a woman with two young children.

Cook said Banks has re-established contact with some of his former Fort Good Hope victims.

"I know that because I know half of the victims and they told me," he said.

"He wanted to come up here for a funeral two or three weeks ago. He was also looking at Old Crow."

Banks is believed to be residing in Courtenay, B.C. ay, B.C.