Former employees allege sexual misconduct at Saskatchewan basketball camp for teenagers

Silvia says she remembers her boss leaning in.

“He kind of got awkwardly close to me and said, ‘Of course, if you and your friends do move in here, light cleaning wouldn’t be the only thing I would get you to do to repay me,’” she told Global News.

She alleges he made similar comments on more than one occasion. She claims he even answered the door one day wearing only a towel when she showed up for work.

She says it left no doubt in her mind that he wanted sexual favours.

Read more: Saskatoon police felt they lacked evidence to further probe teen’s sexual harassment report, file shows

After these experiences, she said she felt “shame … like just a gross feeling kind of wash over you, where you kind of shut down a little bit.”

Silvia was 18 years old at the time. She says she had accepted a job in the home office of her boss, who was 56 years old and running a basketball camp for teenagers. She took the job in the summer of 2002 because she loved basketball and wanted to get more involved.

Click to play video: 'Focus Saskatchewan: Global News investigation into Young Athlete Saskatchewan basketball camp' Focus Saskatchewan: Global News investigation into Young Athlete Saskatchewan basketball camp
Focus Saskatchewan: Global News investigation into Young Athlete Saskatchewan basketball camp – May 29, 2021

Silvia is a pseudonym. Global News has decided not to reveal her real name.

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She is among about a dozen sources who agreed to speak to Global News over the past year including former employees, athletes and parents for this story. Global News also reviewed dozens of pages of internal government emails and correspondence released through freedom of information legislation, as well as old court records, newspaper articles and police files that provide insight into the camp’s history.

A photo of Denis Hall from his 2016 campaign for a board position with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools division. Supplied / City of Saskatoon

Silvia and another employee allege the same man acted inappropriately on the job but was never stopped.

It is not clear if the man is still involved with the same basketball camp, Young Athlete Saskatchewan (YAS), nearly 20 years after Silvia’s experiences, but it appears his photo was on the camp’s website last year.

His name is Dennis Robert Hall and he appears to have been involved with YAS since it was created in 1983, about two years after he was convicted of sex offences involving minors.

 

‘He’d call me from a bar’

In Saskatchewan there are no restrictions preventing a convicted sex offender from being involved with a private sports camp for children. Youth protection advocates describe this as a failure in a system where no one takes responsibility for ensuring that children are safe.

Silvia says she worked as a camp counsellor for Hall in 2002 but quit early on after he announced in front of other counsellors that he couldn’t stop looking at her breasts.

She said he harassed her after she left, sending and making unwanted emails and phone calls. Silvia told Global News she and her roommates stopped answering the phone because he called so often.

Read more: Basketball camp claimed it was endorsed by woman who alleged sexual harassment

“He’d call me from a bar,” Silvia said. “He’d call and say he was too drunk to drive, and if he drove he was going to kill himself or he’d kill someone else, so I needed to pick him up.”

She said she moved several months later and got a new phone number, eliminating the calls. She said he only stopped emailing nearly a year later, after she warned him she was filing a report with the Saskatoon Police Service.

Global News obtained a copy of the police report through freedom of information legislation, and it confirms that she made the same allegations to police in 2003.

The record of Silvia’s complaint to the Saskatoon Police Service in 2003. It it she alleges Dennis Hall said he could help her have a baby.A police spokesperson said they couldn’t comment on the complaint. Global News reached out to Hall several times but have not heard back. Internal Saskatoon Police Document obtained through a freedom of information request

But the report said police were unable to pursue an investigation or lay charges after determining there was not enough evidence. It has left her concerned that others may still be at risk because she believes Hall is still working at the camp and attempting to mislead people about his past.

Silvia alleges she heard Hall use different aliases on the phone when she worked for him at his office.

“He would say his name was Brian and that Dennis was no longer there,” she said.

Read more: Former player shocked to learn convicted sex offender could be coaching again

Global News has also reviewed emails and other documents that show names such as Brian North, Robb Hall or Denis Hall sending correspondence on behalf of the camp to dismiss concerns of parents.

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Hall has used both “Denis” and “Dennis” as a spelling for his first name.

Neither Brian North nor Robb Hall responded to emails from Global News asking if they were using their real names or whether these names were aliases for Dennis Hall.

Global News reached out to Hall on numerous occasions through phone calls and emails with detailed questions seeking comment, but didn’t receive any responses. Hall also declined to respond when Global News approached him to ask questions in person.

‘We are aware of his history’

Hall received a pardon in 1994, according to multiple media reports.

Over subsequent years, the camp received funding from government-supported organizations, including from the City of Saskatoon and a provincial program. One of the sponsors, the Community Initiatives Fund, a special purpose fund created by the government of Saskatchewan that receives a portion of the revenues from casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw, confirms it donated $88,000 to the camp between 2010 and 2020. A provincial fund executive also acknowledges being fully aware of who is behind the camp.

Read more: Former employee calls for regulation of private sports camps in Saskatchewan

“Denis Hall submits the application and final reports on behalf of YAS to us. And yes, we are aware of his history,” wrote Tracey Mann, the executive director of the CIF.

Dennis Hall’s name doesn’t appear on the YAS website or in recent corporate filings and parents who have contacted the camp in recent months say they all received responses from people named Robb Hall, Brian North or Linda Smith.

Graphic created by Global News. Corporate document purchased from the Information Service Corporation. Graphic created by Global News. Corporate document purchased from the Information Service Corporation.

Corporate documents, obtained by Global News from Information Services Corp., a publicly traded business responsible for land titles and corporate information services in Saskatchewan, show that Brian North and Robb Hall list the same address, an apartment on 9th Street East in Saskatoon.

An Information Services Corp. spokesperson, in an email, wrote the corporation “does not verify the names/identities of individuals listed in corporate documents.”

Profile photos on a Robert Hall Twitter account appear to show Dennis Hall.

The Twitter profile of @Denall, which shows the name Robert Hall and a photo of someone who appears to be Dennis Hall.
The Twitter profile of @Denall, which shows the name Robert Hall and a photo of someone who appears to be Dennis Hall. Twitter / @Denall. Taken May 21

Global News also recorded Dennis Hall’s Facebook page in November 2020. Since then, the display name was changed to “Robb Hall,” though everything else about the page, including the URL address that includes the name Dennis Hall, is the same.

Twitter accounts for Brian North or BJ North have no display photo but Hall is the only consistent figure in the photos posted by these accounts. Brian North was quoted and identified as the YAS camp director in an online article published by CJME, a Regina news radio station, in June 2019.

Banned from some schools

An email from Brian North to a parent in 2020 stated the camp has “been owned by Denis Hall’s sons since he retired and moved away in 2013. It has a Board of Directors.”

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After conducting searches through phone books, social media sites and Google, Global News could not locate any other board members listed in corporate documents except for one, Marcie Chatsis-Neault.

In 2020 a woman emailed Young Athlete Saskatchewan asking if Denis Hall is still involved with the basketball camp. A response told her he hasn’t been involved in years. Graphic created by Global News. Global has agreed not to reveal the woman's identity

Global News called Chatsis-Neault, who appears as “Marcie Chatsis” on the YAS website, emailed and reached out several times through several Facebook accounts, including her campaign account. Global News did not receive a response.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Chatsis or any details available about whether she was heavily involved in any way with the basketball camp, apart from her name being listed as a board member. She appears in some photos on the site handing out medals.

A photo from the Young Athlete Saskatchewan website that appears to show Denis Hall at the camp in 2020. Source / yas.ca

Photos posted on the YAS website appear to show Dennis Hall was at camps in Saskatoon from 2011 to 2020. Silvia identified the man in the photos as Hall and the photos appear to closely match a photo of Hall from when he ran for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School (GSCS) board of trustees in 2016. The City of Saskatoon circulated photos of city council and school board nominees at the time.

Click to play video: 'Former employee alleges sexual harassment at camp' Former employee alleges sexual harassment at camp
Former employee alleges sexual harassment at camp – May 28, 2021

Derrick Kunz, a GSCS spokesperson, told Global News by email that Hall has been banned from all school properties. The ban was also in place at the time of the 2016 election, Kunz explained, sharing a news article that indicated the school board took this action against Hall in 2002.

With files from Mike De Souza and Jigar Patel