Former York Region physician faces sexual assault charges

Alleged incidents took place between 1962 and 1971

York Region’s former medical officer of health faces more than a dozen sexual assault charges dating back nearly 50 years.

John Owen Slingerland, 87, of Mount Albert in the town of East Gwillimbury, is charged with 15 counts of indecent assault on males between 1962 and 1971, police said.

Slingerland, who was arrested and charged Thursday, was brought by police into a Newmarket courtroom in a wheelchair, his son and wife seated in the public area.

After being released on bail and ordered by an Ontario Court judge to return June 22, Slingerland hugged his tearful wife and son and said to them: “I’m sorry to put you through all this.’’

The judge imposed a publication ban on evidence heard in court.

Slingerland practised in Mount Albert and Newmarket, and was also a local volunteer with Scouts Canada, police said.

Slingerland was the medical officer of health in York from 1959 until he retired in 1988. For some of that time he also served as commissioner of social services for the region.

Thursday’s charges come after a lengthy investigation by the York Region police Crimes Against Children Unit, which works with other support agencies and community groups to investigate child abuse allegations.

Investigators believe there may be more victims who haven’t yet come forward. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Const. David Manzon, a member of the child abuse investigation team, at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7075.

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