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Carstairs school teacher found not guilty in sexual assault case

Verdict handed down in teacher sex assault case
MV Henry Paulgaard court
Henry Paulgaard, left, and his lawyer Steve Eichler leave the Didsbury provincial court on Nov. 6, 2019. Paulgaard was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a female student File photo/MVP Staff

CARSTAIRS - A longtime Carstairs teacher charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in 2017 has been found not guilty.

Henry Paulgaard faced counts of sexual contact with a minor and sexual assault. His one-day trial was held in November before Judge John D. Holmes, with Vince Pingitore serving as Crown prosecutor and Steve Eichler as defence counsel.

The alleged offences occurred at Hugh Sutherland School in November or December 2017. Paulgaard was charged in March 2019.

The complainant, who cannot be identified, was 15-years-old at the time of the alleged offences.

The girl testified that she working on an assignment in class when the accused approached her from behind and wrapped his arms around her.

“It was very abrupt and out of the blue,” she said. “I felt his erection against my mid-buttocks area. He kept repeating that he was just trying to help.”

Testifying in his own defence, Paulgaard said he did not assault the girl.

“I deny all of these (allegations),” said Paulgaard. “I deny having an erection anywhere around (the girl). I deny having any contact with her. I would never do that. I just didn’t do it.”

Judge Holmes delivered his not guilty verdict on both charges on July 27 after several earlier court appearance dates were set aside due to the COVID pandemic.

Paulgaard was suspended from his teaching position after the charges were laid in March 2019.

Chinook's Edge School Division Superintendent Kurt Sacher said last Thursday that school officials will be discussing the Paulgaard situation in light of the verdict.