Skip to content

Spring verdict in alleged Carstairs school sexual assault

MV Henry Paulgaard court
Henry Paulgaard, left, and his lawyer Steve Eichler leave the Didsbury provincial court on Nov. 6. Noel West/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY - The verdict in a case involving an alleged sexual assault at Hugh Sutherland School in Carstairs is scheduled for March 2020. 

The judge-only trial of a longtime Carstairs teacher charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in 2017 was held in Didsbury provincial court last week.

Henry Paulgaard, 55, faces counts of sexual contact with a minor and sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges and is currently suspended from teaching.

Paulgaard’s one-day trial was held before Judge Holmes, with Vince Pingitore serving as Crown prosecutor and Steve Eichler as defence counsel.

The offences allegedly 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 was 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 started shaking. I shoved my shoulders back. He tightened his grip around my arms. He was bear-hugging me. His hands were on my hands and his arms were over my arms.

“I tried to yell for help because I knew something was wrong. He pressed me up against his body. I felt his erection against my mid-buttocks area. He kept repeating that he was just trying to help.

She said she was “squirming” in an attempt to get away during the incident, which she said lasted between 30 seconds and a minute.

“I was extremely scared,” she said.

The girl went to police to report the incident in March 2019, court heard.

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.”

During cross-examination, prosecutor Pingitore said, “I would suggest to you that you pushed your penis onto her buttocks. Is that correct?”

Paulgaard replied: “No.”

Judge J.D. Holmes is scheduled to deliver his verdict in the case on March 30, 2020, following written submissions from Crown and defence.