MacLellan employed to shuttle Coady participants while charged with sexual assault
William Roger MacLellan, a local taxi driver, was found guilty by the Antigonish provincial court of one count of sexual assault in November 2016. MacLellan was initially arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault in November 2014, both reported to have been perpetrated against intoxicated female StFX students that same year.
MacLellan’s first charge was dropped in January 2016 by Judge Laurel Halfpenny-MacQuarrie for a lack of sufficient evidence. The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, admitted that she had been intoxicated to the point of near unconsciousness. She acknowledged that she never looked at the driver during the incident, in which she claimed that MacLellan had groped her breasts, but thought that she recognized his voice.
MacLellan was found guilty on the second charge of sexual assault, wherein a female passenger awoke in his cab to find his hand down her pants in October 2014. His sentencing is currently scheduled for April 6, 2017. Usually, with sexual cases of this nature, there is a one-year minimum of jail time for first time offenders.
Several RCMP officers testified about the incident. They had searched for a “non-white male driving a dark green van” based on the statement given that night by the individual. MacLellan claims he was driving a dark blue van that evening.
MacLellan owns a taxi and shuttle company, R-Mac Taxi and Limousine Service, and was allowed by the courts to continue his work until the date of his sentencing. Many conditions were associated with his release, namely that he is not to be alone in a vehicle with a single female passenger when conducting his business. He is also to report weekly to the RCMP detachment.
The Antigonish Justice Centre has confirmed that MacLellan is appealing his conviction at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
StFX has placed a protection of property on MacLellan, effectively banning him from campus. This ban will last until further notice. According to Bob Hale, head of student services, an individual would have to apply to the university in order for the ban to be lifted. Hale was not at liberty to discuss the circumstances that prompted the ban.
To date, the university has not publicly informed the university community of MacLellan’s ban or the charges laid against him.
Despite the charges filed against MacLellan, the Coady International Institute employed R-Mac Taxi and Limousine Service to transport participants to and from the airport at least up until summer 2016.
Multiple participants have raised informal complaints with the Coady Institute regarding untoward advances and racist comments made by drivers. At least one official complaint has been filed with the Coady Institute regarding its use of MacLellan’s services.
Rae Mombourquette, a 2016 graduate of the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program, wrote a formal letter to the Coady in June 2016 wherein she outlined her concerns about the institution’s employment of a man banned from campus due to alleged harassment charges. “I spent three weeks supporting this man’s business and it sickens me,” she wrote.
Mombourquette expressed her dismay at having been personally driven by MacLellan, as well as with the Coady’s continued use of MacLellan’s company despite ongoing complaints. “To learn that Coady International Institute and St. Francis Xavier University would continuously place a group of women in a situation where there is such a close proximity to predatory behaviour and alleged harassers, is unacceptable.”
Upon submitting her complaint, Mombourquette requested a response from the Coady and StFX outlining their commitment to uphold the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment. “This includes discontinuing the use of companies owned and operated by individuals wrapped up in harassment cases, alleged or otherwise,” she concluded. As of February 2017, Mombourquette has not yet received any statement from either institution.
Mombourquette was certain to note that her concerns were personally addressed by one member of the senior management team, and that all 16 participants travelled to Halifax together for their final return home. She did note, however, that “it seemed there was push back from other senior staff who made it difficult for [them] to find a lasting solution to the continual hire and support of men who had somehow been involved in inappropriate behaviour towards students.”
Jim Marlow, manager of finance and administration at the Coady Institute, would not offer comment on the Coady’s transportation services.
*With files from Aaron Beswick, The Chronicle Herald.