Former scout leader from the Halifax area has been given six years of prison sentence for sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s.
Gerald Arthur Conrad, age 71, has pleaded guilty in Halifax provincial court to two counts of indecent assault against a male and one count of gross indecency.
Conrad was sentenced last week by Judge Christine Driscoll, who accepted Crown attorney Steve Degen’s recommendation and gave the Dartmouth senior three years for his crimes against each child, to be served consecutively.
The judge had rejected defense lawyer Ron Pizzo’s request for two years held in prison and three years’ of probation, saying that the punishment must be severe enough to hold Gerald Conrad accountable for his actions and acknowledge the harm that he has done.
“Both victims have struggled with their lives,” Driscoll stated. “My hope is that they both find some peace.”
The court heard that the first victim was only 11 years old when he had been abused by Conrad in 1975. The boy had been taking a quiz for a Scouts Canada merit badge when Conrad had exposed his genitals to him.
A few weeks later, Conrad offered to give the boy a drive home after a scout meeting, stopped his vehicle near a warehouse, exposed himself again and then masturbated in front of the boy.
Conrad later assaulted the same boy in a cabin at a scout camp. After masturbating, Conrad had performed oral sex on the young boy, who then stopped attending scouts shortly afterward.
The other victim was 12 years old when he had been targeted by Conrad, who was a cousin of a neighborhood friend, in the winter of 1978-79.
Conrad had taken the young boy to a car show at the Halifax Metro Centre. While driving home, he touched the boy’s genital area. After they went into the house, Conrad then masturbated the boy and performed oral sex on him.
He threatened the boy that if he did not keep quiet, he would tell everyone he was gay.
Conrad was around his 20s when he committed the offenses. He did not have a criminal record at the time, so he was sentenced as a first-time offender. The court took into account his three subsequent convictions involving young children.
In May 2021, he was arrested and then transported to Ontario to face multiple charges of molesting a nine-year-old boy while visiting Markham for Easter in April 2001. He pleaded guilty in the Ontario court in July 2021 to a charge of sexual interference and was handed an eight-month jail sentence and three years’ probation.
In January 2010, Conrad pleaded guilty in Dartmouth provincial court to a charge of sexually assaulting a child and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, followed by two years’ probation.
He also has a sexual assault conviction from 1986, for which he received a suspended sentence and two years’ probation.
The forensic assessment
Conrad had undergone a forensic sexual behaviour assessment prior to this sentencing. The report said he has a pedophilic disorder, with some histrionic and narcissistic personality traits, and poses an average to moderate risk to reoffend.
In the report, and in comments to the court at sentencing, Conrad said confusion about his sexuality, his naivete and his lack of education about sex were factors in the offences.
“I don’t doubt that these things are all true, (but) it would have been crystal clear to him that as a scout leader and an adult, he was to take care of his scouts or any child in his care,” Driscoll said.
“Being confused about your sexuality does not translate into sexual offences against children. … The use of his position of authority and the subsequent threat to (the second victim) tells the court that he knew what he was doing was wrong and that he was taking steps to hide it.”
The victims, who are in their 50s, submitted impact statements for sentencing. Their identities are protected by a publication ban.
The former scout said he had left Nova Scotia as a child, has not returned “and likely never will.” He said he has been flooded by memories of the assaults for more than 45 years.
“I am thankful for the assistance of all involved in the legal system for listening, responding and delivering some sense and form of justice, enabling me to move on and hopefully put all the guilt, shame and anger behind me,” he said. “At this time, I have no forgiveness to share, but perhaps I’ll get there one day.”
The second victim said the mental damage that Conrad caused him “runs deep and will never go away.
“I was an innocent, trusting child with a bright future. My very first sexual experience was one of violence and fear. My first sexual experience was against my will, at the hands of a man who enjoyed hurting children, a pedophile. I was a 12-year-old child. How could anyone go on to have a normal life after a start like that?
“I may have grown up to be something great, but Gerald Conrad killed that happy, strong, confident little boy. He gave me a life sentence, a life as a victim of sexual assault. He took something precious from me forever. That cannot be fixed.”
The man said he is in therapy, “trying to deal with the damage Gerald Conrad caused me. … All those years of mistrust, stress, trauma, failed relationships, suicide attempts and substance abuse are years that I can never get back.
“Please do not look at this as something that happened a long time ago. I relive it almost every day. My nightmares are constant. I rarely sleep at night. For me, the sexual assault was yesterday. I wish it wasn’t. Please let there be justice for me, my family and our community.”
Degen said society needs to be able to rely on people in positions of trust such as scout leaders to safely supervise and mentor children. He said offences like these have a “chilling effect” on the community.
“Mr. Conrad is a pedophile,” the prosecutor said. “He is someone who likes and desires young boys. I get the impression from reading the risk assessment that this is something that he has not at all come to grips with. I don’t think (he) fully appreciates what is inside of him and the type of harm that that behaviour creates.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Conrad was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, stay away from parks, playgrounds, schools and other places frequented by children, and cannot work or volunteer in any position that would give him authority over anyone under the age of 16.
Driscoll has also prohibited him from having unsupervised contact with children and from using the internet for any sexual purposes, including meeting potential dating partners.
Conrad also had to provide a DNA sample for a national databank. After he gets out prison, he will be banned from possessing firearms for 10 years.
Your Legal Options After Sexual or Institutional Abuse
At Wagners, we’ve met survivors of sexual or institutional abuse who find it extremely difficult to share their experiences, even with a lawyer. We have a team that is professional and compassionate so you can rely on their experience to explain your legal options and provide the assistance you need to fight for your fair compensation. Abuse survivors can trust us to use the information they share to ensure the person or institution responsible are brought to justice. We take the time to evaluate the specifics of your case and advise on the best legal option to help you receive the monetary compensation you need to recover from the abuse you endured.
File criminal charges: If you take this option, you will not get monetary compensation. Investigations will be done, and the accused will be arrested if sufficient evidence is found. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she could face punishment like imprisonment.
Civil lawsuit: In this case, we pursue the case on behalf of the survivor in civil court. If found at fault, the assailant will be required to pay monetary compensation, which would assist the survivor to recover from the abuse.
Class action lawsuit: It is also possible to file a class action lawsuit against an assailant who assaulted several people. The group of survivors can come together to collectively file a class action suit against the person or institution that was responsible for the assault or abuse.
At Wagners, we firmly believe that no amount of compensation can eliminate the pain and suffering that your assailant caused, but there is so much good that comes from a successfully resolved institutional or sexual abuse claim. As a survivor, the monetary compensation you receive can assist you to recover from the abuse and cater to the medical costs involved. Holding the assailant accountable also restores your dignity and encourages other victims of sexual and institutional abuse to come out and seek justice as well.
The amount of compensation you deserve for your sexual or institutional abuse claim will depend on many factors. Some of these factors include:
- How the abuse affected your ability to support yourself and make sufficient income
- The type of medical treatment you need or you have sought due to the abuse
- The personal or unique circumstances of your lawsuit
We know that sexual or institutional abuse is a terrible experience, and many victims usually have a heavy burden that they are likely to carry for a long time. For this reason, we offer reliable legal assistance that you need to get the monetary burden off your shoulders. Our main goal is to build a strong strategy and successfully fight for your rights.