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Dr. de Villiers found guilty of sexual offences involving child

The former lead of Alberta Health Services’ North zone has been found guilty of sexually abusing a child while in Grande Prairie. Dr. Albert de Villiers was convicted of sexual assault and sexual interference Tuesday morning.

In giving her judgement, Justice Shaina Leonard detailed some of the testimony given during the trial in Grande Prairie in January. She noted that the offences happened between 2018 and 2020 when the boy was as young as seven years old and the child of family friends and de Villiers was AHS’ North Zone Medical Officer of Health.

It’s noted that the boy had sleepovers at the home of de Villiers and his wife on multiple occasions. He testified that the second time, de Villiers had shown him pornography under the guise of showing him “where babies come from” and engaged in sexual touching. Justice Leonard said this continued each time after for at least five and as many as eight incidents.

The boy reported the abuse to his mother in 2021, after de Villiers had moved to Kelowna, B.C., at which point the family cut off all contact. A piece of evidence at the centre of the trial was a voicemail left by de Villiers on the father’s phone, in which he said he was “extremely sorry” for what happened, saying it had never happened before and wouldn’t again.

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De Villiers testified that he thought he had been blocked as he had overstepped the boundaries of a family friend, getting too close to the boy and taking on an improper parenting role, and was apologizing in case. Justice Leonard said she rejected his explanation, believing instead that he had not yet settled on a cover story, noting that while the boy’s parents had felt uncomfortable about their relationship, they chose not to say anything due to the doctor’s imminent move to B.C. to become Interior Health’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The case will be back in court on February 13th to set a date for sentencing. The sexual assault charge was stayed since de Villiers was convicted of sexual interference and can’t be found guilty of the same crime twice.

De Villiers is also charged with three more sex offences involving a child between January 2017 and December 2019. A trial is scheduled for August in Grande Prairie.

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