Former Moncton teacher facing more than 2 dozen sex-crime charges opts for jury trial

Paul Maillet, left, with his lawyer Gilles Lemieux leaving the Moncton courthouse on Jan. 23, 2023. (Pascal Raiche-Nogue/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Paul Maillet, left, with his lawyer Gilles Lemieux leaving the Moncton courthouse on Jan. 23, 2023. (Pascal Raiche-Nogue/Radio-Canada - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

A former New Brunswick teacher who allegedly sexually abused students has pleaded not guilty and has opted for a jury trial.

Paul J. Maillet, who taught at École Champlain elementary school in Moncton, faces 32 charges.

The charges against Maillet, 76, of Notre-Dame, include gross indecency, indecent assault, buggery, possessing child pornography, sexually touching a minor, sexual assault, distributing an obscene photo, and exposing his genitals.

The charges allege offences in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, '90s and 2003 involving more than a dozen victims.

Monday's court appearance was for 28 of the charges as four others already are set for a jury trial in September.

Maillet, who wasn't present in court, was represented by lawyer Gilles Lemieux.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Lemieux chose trial for Maillet by judge and jury on 28 charges.

Preliminary hearing dates for those charges are expected to be set March 31.

Lemieux said it's a difficult case to schedule partly because of the number of charges.

"But you know, everybody is aware that the provincial court is pretty clogged these days, so we need dates and we need a lot of dates, and that makes it a little more complex scheduling wise," Lemieux told reporters outside the courthouse.

There is a court-imposed publication ban on information that could identify the alleged victims.

Radio-Canada recently reported that Maillet also faces two civil lawsuits that are proceeding separately from the criminal cases. The plaintiffs in court filings allege Maillet sexually assaulted them in the 1970s and 1980s when they were minors.

The first lawsuit was filed in November 2021 in the Court of King's Bench against the provincial government, which it says was responsible for the oversight of public school districts.

The plaintiff alleges he was a student of Maillet in the late 1980s when he was 10 to 12 years old. The lawsuit alleged Maillet sexually assaulted the student "on numerous occasions."

It alleges Maillet began "grooming" him, creating a bond or trust, by leaving small bags of chips and chocolate bars in the student's desk.

The lawsuit alleges the student was then asked to stay during recess, hug the teacher, sit on his knees and sexually touch Maillet.

The lawsuit alleges that Maillet at one point offered to drive the student home from school but instead took the student to the teacher's home and sexually assaulted him.

Maillet has filed paperwork indicating he will defend the case. The lawyer who filed the paperwork, Alison Ménard, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The lawsuit alleges the province was vicariously liable for the actions of the teacher, a term meaning it has some responsibility for the actions of a third party.

The province in a statement of defence has denied it is vicariously liable for Maillet's alleged sexual abuse. It says Maillet's alleged actions "were at no time disclosed to" the province and it had no "knowledge of or cause to suspect the existence of such acts."

The province declined to comment to Radio-Canada about the case.

The second lawsuit was filed last July against Maillet and the Francophone South School District, which operates École Champlain, where Maillet taught. The lawsuit alleges the plaintiff was a student at the school when he was 10 to 11 years old in the late 1970s.

It alleges sexual abuse by Maillet over two years and says "the abuse was known to and/or overlooked" by the school district.

The lawsuit alleged the teacher would separate the student from others by having him clean chalkboard brushes and asking him a sexually explicit question.

Drive led to alleged assault

It alleges the teacher would encourage the student to go for a drive in his van, and once he agreed, took the student to a dead-end road. The case alleges the teacher then sexually touched the student.

The lawsuit alleges the teacher also exposed himself to the student and carried out other sexual acts.

The case states the school district should be held vicariously liable for the teacher's actions.

Maillet has also filed paperwork indicating he will defend the case.

The district has yet to file a response to the case. It declined to comment on the case Monday.