Former B.C., Alta., public health doctor guilty of sex crimes against a child

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – A former medical health officer in Alberta has been found guilty of sexual assault and sexual interference of a child.

Dr. Albert de Villiers, who appeared in court today via video from his home in Kelowna, B.C., was chief medical officer of health in Alberta’s north zone for 16 years before he became chief medical officer of health for B.C.’s Interior Health in 2020.

He was arrested in 2021.

During a judge-alone trial in January, an 11-year-old boy testified de Villiers showed him pornography and touched him several times at the doctor’s home in Grande Prairie, Alta., between 2018 and 2020.

The boy, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, disclosed the allegations to his parents two years later.

Court of King’s Bench Justice Shaina Leonard has ruled that de Villiers sexually assaulted the child as few as five times and as many as eight times.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 13.

Interior Health has said de Villiers was placed on general paid leave on June 9, 2021, then reassigned to administrative duties four months later.

“Employee policies and processes align with federal and provincial laws, including employment standards, human rights, occupational health and safety, privacy legislation, and principles of procedural fairness and, where relevant, union collective agreements,” Michaela Swan, spokeswoman for Interior Health, wrote in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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