A Winnipeg high school football coach is facing sexual assault and exploitation charges after five former students came forward to police.
The students, now adults, all reported being sexually assaulted by a man who initially taught physical education and coached football at Churchill before becoming the gym teacher and football coach at Vincent Massey.
Investigators say the coach forged relationships with the students and say the majority of the alleged assaults happened at the suspect’s house.
“He groomed them … that’s what this type of suspect does,” police spokesperson, Const. Dani McKinnon said Wednesday.
“They get involved in their life, they build trust. They’re already in a position of trust and control — they’re teachers, they’re coaches — so right away they have sort of a nice platform of trust.”
Police began investigating the alleged assaults after one of the complainants told police of an incident that occurred in 2004, said McKinnon.
The investigation determined some of the alleged assaults happened over months and years.
McKinnon said historical investigations present challenges for investigators because the events can sometimes occur a decade prior to when a complainant comes forward.
“We’ll have to go back in and access witnesses, talk to perhaps businesses and institutions. Sometimes that may no longer exist.”
Kelsey Albert Dana McKay, 51, of Winnipeg was arrested Tuesday.
He has been charged with five counts of sexual assault, four counts of sexual exploitation, one count of sexual interference and four counts of luring.
Police say McKay has been released with conditions on consent from the Crown.
McKinnon said McKay was still employed as a teacher with the Pembina Trails School Division at the time of his arrest.
In a statement to Global News, Pembina Trails School Division superintendent Ted Fransen said McKay has since been placed on unpaid administrative leave and is not permitted on any school division property.
Fransen said the division have social workers and psychologists on call and encouraged anyone with information to reach out to investigators.
“We want to assure the Massey community that we will act as quickly as possible to respond to any developments from this matter and support our students and staff,” Fransen said.
The Winnipeg School Division, the largest school division in the city, said in a statement that it was informed Wednesday of the investigation into McKay, also a former teacher in the division.
“Winnipeg School Division strongly advocates for safe and caring schools and the well-being of our students, and news of this alleged breach of trust is devastating within our school community,” the statement said.
The Winnipeg police sex crimes unit continues to investigate and McKinnon said police haven’t ruled out the possibility that there may be other victims.
“There is always the possibility of other people because the football community is very widespread, and the person that we’re talking about here has had a very long standing tenure in the football community,” she said.
It’s the third unrelated case of past sexual assaults that Winnipeg police have investigated in less than a year.
McKinnon said there has been a shift in how these cases are talked about and investigated.
“It’s very good that we’re at this point where people have been so brave and come forward,” she said.
“It’s continuing having this open dialogue that will encourage other people to be strong, bind together and know that we’re here to assist and help.”
Anyone with information that may help investigators is asked to call 204-986-6245. Other supportive resources include Winnipeg police victim services at 204-986-6350 and Klinic Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 204-786-8631.
–With files from The Canadian Press