Winnipeg youth mentor charged with sexual assault in cases involving young boys

Two boys allegedly sexually assaulted four years apart by the same suspect were part of mentorship programs in separate organizations.

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This article was published 20/11/2018 (1477 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two boys allegedly sexually assaulted four years apart by the same suspect were part of mentorship programs in separate organizations.

Guillaume Meisterhans, 35, of Winnipeg, was charged Nov. 10 with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference in separate cases involving seven-year-old boys, city police said Tuesday.

The most recent involved five alleged incidents between April 27, 2017, and April 2, 2018. The accused was volunteering with Child and Family Services as a mentor, and took the victim to his home, where “acts deemed to be sexual assault and sexual interference were performed,” the Winnipeg Police Service said.

Facebook photo Guillaume Meisterhans

The victim disclosed the incidents in April 2018, police said.

The other case involves three alleged incidents between April and November of 2014, when the suspect was a mentor working for a non-profit organization (which the police did not name). The boy reported the incidents to a caregiver in November 2014, and the organization terminated the accused’s employment, but police were not called.

“We don’t have any concerns with the way the original incident was dealt with, but as details came forward to our investigators and they looked at it in detail, it was enough that they felt, at this point in time, that charges should be laid, and they did,” WPS Const. Rob Carver said at a news conference Tuesday.

“More detailed information was coming out as the victim was spoken to and as parents were able to talk to investigators. A more detailed picture was being presented. What was originally not enough for a police investigation, let alone charges, passed that hurdle and it became enough for both an investigation and that concluded with charges being laid.”

Carver said the cases “highlight the kind of vetting that needs to be done” as far as criminal record checks and other background checks are required by organizations which hire people who will have access to children.

“We need to outline that, in fact, that is what’s required. That someone’s background where they have this kind or responsibility, this kind of access to kids, is always critical that it be looked at with as much detail as possible,” Carver said. “I’m not faulting any organizations here. It’s just another cautionary example, and it happens regularly, that someone’s background can have some elements of it that can raise concern.

“In this case, the individual did commit offences over a fairly lengthy period with separate organizations.”

A spokeswoman from Manitoba Families said action has been taken by CFS with regard to volunteerism.

“In light of these serious allegations, Winnipeg CFS put a hold on new volunteer hires in September. The hold will be in place as the agency reviews its volunteer application process, so there isn’t a specific timeline,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Agencies are required to screen volunteer applicants with a child abuse registry and criminal record check. An agency must be satisfied with the results of those checks before allowing the volunteer to work with a child.”

The accused turned himself in on July 21. It was at that time the 2014 case was re-examined, and the youth involved reinterviewed.

Carver said police are declining to name the youth mentoring organization to avoid any misunderstanding.

“Naming the organization leaves them open to allegations that they somehow failed, and we don’t think that is what happened,” Carver said.

He said investigators are “quite confident” there are no other victims from either of the accused’s former positions with the youth mentorship organization nor CFS.

The accused also ran a French-language tutoring business, but police said they are not aware of any other potential victims related to it.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 8:00 AM CST: Comments turned off.

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