Gordon Stuckless was found guilty of two counts of gross indecency but acquitted on two counts of buggery, though the Toronto judge overseeing the case said she found his testimony unreliable.
Stuckless had contested all four charges even though he admitted as part of his April guilty plea to committing other types of abuse against the same victims decades ago. He also fought four other charges but those were withdrawn during trial.
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In her decision, Justice Mara Greene said that while she believes Stuckless "probably" committed buggery — an old charge referring to sodomy — that is not enough for a conviction, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
"The offence of buggery requires a finding that Mr. Stuckless had anal intercourse with his victims," Greene told the court, noting that digital penetration does not count for that offence despite being equally traumatic.
During trial, Stuckless testified he would never commit buggery because of trauma he himself endured when he was anally raped as a boy.
He conceded, however, that his finger could have accidentally gone into a boy's rectum while he touched or rubbed the child — a claim Greene found "difficult to accept."
His two accusers admitted on the stand they did not see what Stuckless used to penetrate them, but both said they believed it was his penis.
Lloyd William Forde, the only accuser who can be legally identified, testified it happened in the late 1960s when he was seven or eight. Stuckless had befriended his mother and started taking him on walks and to the movies, he told the court.
One day, he recalled, he and Stuckless went in a barn on his parents' property."Basically he just raped me,'' he testified.
The other accuser told the court he and Stuckless were in the boy's bedroom and Stuckless forcefully penetrated him.
He said he told Stuckless it hurt and asked him to stop, but the assault continued.
Stuckless's lawyer, Ari Goldkind, said Wednesday his client has owned up to the "horrible acts" he's committed over the years but buggery simply wasn't one of them.
"This is not viewed as a win. There are people's lives involved in this case that have been horribly ruined forever from the time they were young to the suffering that they have today," Goldkind said outside the courthouse.
"So this is not a victory — this is, as her honour said, a legal test and a legal distinction and that's the way our system of law operates."
Stuckless pleaded guilty in 1997 to sex assaults on two dozen boys while he was an usher at Maple Leaf Gardens.
He was forced back in the spotlight last year when police announced fresh charges against him in alleged incidents dating back decades.
The Crown is expected to seek a dangerous offender designation, which Goldkind said is not warranted because his client has abided by the law since his previous convictions and voluntarily undergoes chemical castration.
Michael McTague, one of the victims in the 1997 case, said he's disappointed by Wednesday's acquittal but remains hopeful his abuser will be labelled a dangerous offender.
"He should have been taken off the streets a long time ago but he wasn't," he said.
Stuckless is expected to be sentenced early next year.
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