Regina volunteer charged with youth sex crimes

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Regina Leader Post

 

The RCMP held a press conference on Wednesday to speak on charges that had been laid against a 24-year-old Regina man following an investigation into a complaint from a youth’s parent. Nathan Michael Labatt is charged with sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching and possession of child pornography.

REGINA — A Scout leader and church youth group volunteer is facing three charges related to alleged youth sexual abuse.

Nathan Michael Labatt, 24, of Regina is charged with sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching and possession of child pornography following an RCMP investigation.

Through Scouts Canada, where Labatt worked with males aged 14 to 17 as a Venturer leader, and the Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic Churches, he attended various youth camps, retreats and other events throughout Saskatchewan between 2009 and 2014.

The RCMP believes there could be more potential victims, most likely male youths, and is asking anyone with information to come forward.

Father Lorne Crozon, vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Regina, said Labatt participated in youth rallies and retreat work.

He called the situation “regrettable.”

“This is something that we just don’t want to see happening in the Archdiocese of Regina or to anybody,” said Crozon, adding the organization is “working very, very hard at making sure that we’re protecting our young people.”

“We’re hoping that if anybody has been involved in any of this, they would contact the RCMP and then contact the Archdiocese.”

Crozon said no youths involved in the church have come forward with complaints regarding Labatt. As far as he is aware, it’s the first time a church volunteer in Regina is alleged to have committed a sexual infraction against a youth.

Prior to volunteering with youth in the Archdiocese, someone must submit a clean criminal record check and two non-family references.

“We did those things where Nathan Labatt was concerned and certainly he provided a clean criminal record and also the references came back clean as well,” said Crozon.

John Petitti of Scouts Canada in Ottawa also said Labatt passed the organization’s rigorous volunteer check, which involves a police record check (to be renewed at the three-year mark), vulnerable sector screening, a personal interview and three reference checks. The volunteer must also complete child and youth safety training and sign the code of conduct.

A key Scouts Canada policy, said Petitti, is to have two leaders with youths at all times.

An allegation like this “hurts us as an organization,” said Petitti. “Like every youth-serving organization, we know there are bad people out there who might want to betray organizations like ours in order to harm youth. … It’s particularly challenging when (an) individual has shown no past indication of a desire to cause harm.”

Supt. Alfredo Bangloy, officer in charge of provincial policing for the RCMP F Division, couldn’t speculate on the number of youths with whom Labatt had contact; he guesses it’s a “large number.”

On July 29, the mother of a male youth alleged her son had received inappropriate text messages from Labatt. The complaint, made to the Lanigan RCMP, resulted in an investigation assisted by Regina RCMP General Investigation Section.

Further interviews and gathering of evidence identified a second victim.

The charge of sexual exploitation relates to one complainant; the other two charges relate to the other complainant, said Bangloy.

“I believe they were separate incidents,” he added.

Labatt was not a Scouts Canada member at the time of the allegation, said Petitti.

Labatt was arrested Jan. 13 and will make his first court appearance at Humboldt Provincial Court on March 23.

Labatt travelled to the Philippines in summer 2014 on a mission with about 40 local Archdiocese members to build houses there.

“We are aware of that and of other travel, however nothing to date indicates any offences outside of Saskatchewan,” said Bangloy. “However, if anything further comes to light, it will be pursued.”

RCMP investigators are asking parents of children who had contact with Labatt to ask their children about any private text or social media conversations they had with him.

“Some social media sites parents should be aware of include Kik, Snapchat, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo,” said Bangloy, who recognizes “it is never easy for families to have a conversation like the ones we’re asking for today.”

He advises parents to visit cybertip.ca for support.

Information should be reported to the Saskatchewan RCMP General Investigation Section at 306-780-7127. Individuals who wish to remain anonymous can contact Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers (calling 1-800-222-8477, texting *8477, or via www.saskcrimestoppers.com).

Sgt. Craig Cleary asks people to be mindful of the impact their comments in the community or on social media could have for the families of the complainants and the accused.

amartin@leaderpost.com

Twitter.com/LPAshleyM

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