New Minas man found guilty of historic indecent assault of a young boy

Published on July 22, 2014

KENTVILLE - A former Port Williams man has been found guilty of an indecent assault involving a boy that occurred in the early 1980s.

Jerry Howard Atwater, 73, now residing in New Minas, was found guilty of the charge on July 21 in Kentville provincial court. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in January.

Atwater committed the offence in Wolfville between June 1, 1980 and Sept. 1, 1981.

After being found guilty of indecent assault, Atwater changed his pleas to guilty to charges of sexual assault involving a male and failing to comply with probation. Atwater committed these offences in Port Williams on July 23, 2013. The matters have been adjourned to Oct. 1 to allow time for a pre-sentence report to be updated and for sentencing.

The victim of the indecent assault, now 43, was 10 or 11 years old at the time. He testified that Atwater had invited him to go swimming at the Acadia pool. The victim said that after they had gone swimming, the two were standing side by side in a communal shower. He said Atwater asked him to remove his swimming trunks because “that’s what big boys do.”

The man testified that Atwater stroked his penis for about 30 seconds and then the touching ended. The victim said that was the last contact he had with Atwater, as “it didn’t feel right.”

The mother of the victim testified that she recalled her son losing interest in interacting with the accused.

In handing down his decision, Judge Alan Tufts said he found the complainant’s testimony compelling.

“I’m convinced beyond a reasonable doubt the event occurred,” Tufts said.

Tufts said it was clear to him that the accused did have occasional contact with the victim and invited him to sporting events. Tufts said it seemed the accused was “grooming a young boy for future sexual activities.”

Atwater pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault involving males back in October 2012. In February of last year, Atwater was handed a two-month conditional sentence order with daily curfew and was sentenced to 22 months of probation. At the time, the court granted a primary DNA order against Atwater and imposed a 10-year Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) order against him. Atwater was serving this term of probation in July 2013 when he was charged again with sexual assault.