Trial of Former Kingsville Fire Chief Underway

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The public portion of the sexual assault trial of former Kingsville Fire Chief Bob Kissner began Thursday.

Kissner has entered a not-guilty plea to 17 charges related to eight complainants.

The first of the witnesses has given his testimony to the court for the Crown, but due to a publication ban, the identity of the complainants cannot be revealed.

Kissner's lawyer Ken Marley says the beginning of the trial was done behind closed doors.

"The first three-days of this week were taken up with what are called pre-trial applications, where we were discussing the admissibility of certain evidence.  The nature of the proceedings according to the criminal code is such that those days had to be closed courts," says Marley.

Marley says the majority of the trial will be witnesses for the Crown.

"As many as 30 witnesses but primarily the eight complainants.  The person who's in the witness box now is the first of those eight. I expect it will probably take the better part of those three weeks to finish all of their testimony," he added.

Marley says Kissner's life has been affected.

"The last two years have been difficult; it’s been a little more than two years since he was charged.  His personal life has really been put on hold; his professional life has been finished.  So it's very difficult, a very different life for him than it was a little more than two years ago," Marley says.

The initial witness explained to the court how he came to know Kissner, detailing the incidents he claims happened to him while he a 15-year-old high school student.

He alleges Kissner invited him to his residence and offered him a bath in a Jacuzzi tub. After the bath, he claims Kissner said they should have a nap and while in his bedroom Kissner started giving him a back massage before asking him to flip over where the massaging continued on his front and his genitals were grazed.

He claims these kinds of incidents happened at least eight-times.

When asked by the Crown, the witness told court he saw Kissner as a mentor and claims Kissner called him "son." The witness says he felt odd about what was happening but didn't think anyone would believe him if he spoke out.

The complainant also explained how his personal life had been affected, including a suicide attempt and the breakdown of a marriage. He told court he had to convince himself he wasn't homosexual and says he developed a hatred for homosexual people.

He also claims to have confronted Kissner several years later, but pledged he wouldn't speak about what happened unless other people came forward with complaints.

When he was told Kissner had been charged in 2016 after others had made complaints, he went to the OPP.

The three-week trial continues Friday Jan. 11 with the cross examination of the first witness.