Former senior health official in B.C., Alberta sentenced to 5.5 years for child sex assault

Click to play video: 'Former IH top doctor convicted of sexual assault'
Former IH top doctor convicted of sexual assault
WATCH: A guilty ruling Tuesday, for the former top doctor of B.C.'s Interior Health region. Dr. Albert De Villiers, who was the Interior health authority's top doctor until June of 2021, was convicted Tuesday following a three-day, high-profile sex assault trial that wrapped up in January. Randi-Marie Adams reports – Feb 7, 2023

Warning: This article contains disturbing content.

Convicted child molester Dr. Albert de Villiers will spend five and half years behind bars for sexually molesting a child who once saw him as a grandfatherly figure.

The disgraced doctor, who was once in a senior role in both Interior Health and Alberta Health Services North zone, was sentenced  Tuesday by King’s Bench Justice Shaina Leonard.

Click to play video: 'Child sex assault trial for Interior Health’s former top doctor underway in Alberta'
Child sex assault trial for Interior Health’s former top doctor underway in Alberta

De Villiers, 54, sexually assaulted the child five to seven times between 2018 and 2020 while the child was between the ages of seven and nine years old.

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De Villiers told the court during his February trial that he considered his relationship with the boy to be one of a surrogate grandparent, and the boy trusted him so much that he referred to him as an uncle. But on these occasions, DeVilliers violated that trust by getting the child to watch pornography with him and on multiple occasions he sexually molested him.

Click to play video: 'Interior Health’s chief medical health officer arrested'
Interior Health’s chief medical health officer arrested

“This caused the victim serious emotional and psychological harm. The offender’s moral blameworthiness is high. The offender exploited the victim’s vulnerability by taking advantage of the offender’s position of trust as a trusted friend of the family, which allowed the offender unsupervised access to the victim,” Leonard said.

“The offender made that choice freely. The fact that the offender is in a position of trust also increases the gravity.”

Leonard pointed out that there were dozens of supportive letters explaining that de Villiers is of good character and that others with families would trust him with their children.

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That, however, isn’t enough.

“While the character references establish the offender’s previous good character and that parents trust him with their children, there’s no explanation why this changed with respect to the victim,” she said.

“The offender has not sought treatment or counseling. No explanation has been provided for why, in this case, the offender abused an important position of trust and authority.”

In doing so, Leonard said that the collateral consequence for De Villiers actions is a “career left in ruins” and a prison sentence.

“There is no circumstance in which (he) will be able to reclaim it.”

De Villiers is also facing separate child sex charges for allegations said to have occurred between January 2017 and December 2019 in Alberta. He’s scheduled to face trial on those charges in August.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, support is available: 

  • The Department of Justice Victim Services Directory includes a list of support services in your area.
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) Available 24/7 or Text CONNECT 686868

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