May 7, 2019 10:03 pm
Updated: May 8, 2019 11:05 am

Southern Alberta man pleads guilty to seven counts of assault with a weapon

Former teacher in Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony pleads guilty to assaulting several of his students.

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What began as a four-day trial for Johan John Hofer on Tuesday turned into several guilty pleas.

Hofer appeared before the judge in Provincial Court in Lethbridge to plead guilty to seven counts of assault with a weapon.

Hofer was first charged by Pincher Creek RCMP in 2016, after several of his former students on the Waterton Hutterite colony came forward with accusations of assaults that took place between 2002 and 2015.

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In the courtroom on Tuesday, Crown Prosecutor Darwyn Ross recounted the victim’s statements, which included Hofer spanking and hitting their palms both inside and outside the classroom while sometimes using a belt of tree branch.

The crown also read that Hofer hit one student in the face, as well as used a lighter underneath students’ hands on two separate occasions.

In light of these statements, the defence noted to the court that all of the incidents of assault happened on top of the students’ clothing and in the presence of others. Defence added tgat Hofer did not intend to hurt anyone but rather to discipline them.

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Other members of the colony present in the courtroom took their chance to address the judge, stating that using weapons to discipline others is not condoned, but that they would accept Hofer back as a member of the community, and they hope for peace and unity on the colony following Hofer’s sentencing.

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After hearing all of the submissions, the judge handed Hofer a two-year less a day conditional sentence, noting the first year must be served under house arrest, with Hofer spending 24 hours a day inside his property or on his land. That will be followed by one year of living under a curfew in his community.

The judge also noted strict conditions that Hofer must follow, including having no contact with the victims or their families.

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