Former music educator receives house arrest for sexual assault

by Karen Janigan

Brian D. Fogelson received 18 months house arrest for indecently assaulting a young man in Lunenburg in the mid-1970s, but he will still be able to attend regular practices with the King's Choral Adult Community Choir in Berwick and, with permission, concerts by the group.

The 64-year-old, who was a director of music in Lunenburg, pleaded guilty to the indecent assault in October; and this week saw the other two charges of gross indecency and buggery withdrawn by the Crown in relation to assault.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Richard Coughlan laid out a raft of conditions on the sentence he imposed March 2, including ordering Fogelson to stay away from places where children under the age of 16 will be found, completing 100 hours of community service and attending any counselling his supervisor deems necessary, including registering in the sex offender database.

In an agreed statement of facts Fogelson – who was in his early 20 - and the victim who was between the ages of 12 to 14 years old – performed fellatio on one another after Fogelson brought up the topic of sexual relations between men and put his hand on the young victim's lap and began kissing him.

The Crown and defence agreed on a conditional sentence, the only dispute being the length. The Crown wanted the maximum of two years less a day and the defence wanted a year. Coughlan said he had weighed Fogelson's exemplary record, health conditions and regrets for his actions on the one hand, which had to be balanced against the denunciation and deterrence of the behaviour necessary when sentencing someone who committed crimes on youth, its impact on the victim, and the fact that Fogelson was in a position of trust.

Coughlan also took into account as mitigating factors that Fogelson is remorseful, pleaded guilty sparing the victim a trial, was a first time offender and had led an exemplary life apart from the sexual assault.

Other conditions include attending any counselling programs recommended to him, staying away from public parks or public swimming areas where persons under the age of 16 are attending, and avoiding daycare centres, school grounds or community centres. He is not allowed seek any role that places him in a position of trust for people under the age of 16 years old. And he must submit samples to the sex offenders DNA database. He was also ordered to pay a $200 victim surcharge.

The choir exemption was the only one that appeared to be different than usual allowances to be out of the house during house arrest like medical appointments, religious services and four hours a week for "personal needs."

During his sentence, the former senior educator in New Jersey and more recently a resident of Venice, FL must reside in Nova Scotia and surrender his passport.

Fogelson is a retired superintendent and chief education officer of a Blairstown, New Jersey-based school district, and returned to the province in 2015, two months after the Public Prosecution Office said it was seeking extradition and just after his retirement.

Fogelson was a teacher in Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, mainly focused on music for several years before returning to the U.S. where he's from. His education career has spanned four decades, and he was named top superintendent in New Jersey's Warren County in 2015.

While the arguments for sentencing were being heard, Fogelson asked to address the court. He said he wanted to tell his victim that he was remorseful of what he had done.

"As a very immature young man, I made a huge mistake ... that I have been regretful about it almost ever since it happened," Fogelson said, adding he tried to find his victim about 20 years ago to express his regret.

"I really did make a big mistake and it's one that I've learned from ... I always tried to counsel my students and staff that, yes, you make mistakes to do your best to learn from mistakes so you don't repeat them and you grow.

"I've tried to dedicated my life to doing good things for children, for their families, good things for the schools and good things for the community.

"I think to a large degree I've been successful," he said of his varied career. "My mistake early in my career changed the direction of my life, too and I've tried to make my life better...because of that.

Fogelson talked about retiring from an exemplary career when this sexual assault allegation started to surface. "The effects of that have been difficult. And it's not to minimize my action on [my victim] but ... the one action I did when I was 21 years old, to many people, took every accomplishment I did in my life and threw it out."

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