An Innisfail town councillor who has been accused of sexual assault has been booted off committees by council but will not lose his seat.
In a meeting closed to the public on Monday, council received a presentation from an independent company commissioned last November to investigate whether Coun. Donnie Hill breached code of conduct regulations.
Council determined that Hill breached the section of the code that says members must “arrange their private affairs and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny.”
A statement from council released on Wednesday says “his private affairs involving recent and past criminal charges, though unproven, have had a negative impact on the reputation of council and the community.”
Council voted to sanction Hill by removing him from all council committees “until the legal proceedings involving his private affairs are concluded.”
Hill was charged last fall with sexual assault, forcible confinement, assault and criminal harassment. None of the allegations which date back to 2013 to 2015 have been tested in court.
A five-day trial beginning Jan. 17, 2022 was set in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench last week.
Despite those charges, council says Hill did not breach a section of the code that says councillors must obey provincial and federal laws and the bylaws, policies and procedures adopted by council.
“(Hill) has no criminal convictions and current charges against him have not been proven in a court of law,” says the statement, adding that the councillor remains qualified to serve as a councillor under the code of conduct and Municipal Government Act.
Hill was given an opportunity to address council on the findings of the report from SAGE Analytics Inc. before passed the sanction motion.
“These sanctions are not intended to imply any judgment of pre-judgment on current charges that Coun. Hill is facing,” says the statement.
“Rather, these sanctions are a temporary suspension from committee involvement in an effort to create some professional distance between the community and Coun. Hill in his capacity as an elected official for the Town of Innisfail.”
Meanwhile, an investigation into alleged breaches of the code of conduct against former Coun. Glen Carritt. The nature of the alleged breaches was not disclosed and the investigation is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Carritt resigned from council last month after being criticized for his support of a local barbershop that defied COVID-related health restrictions in protest.
Mayor Jim Romane said that issue is among the issues under review
“It’s a result of some of his actions in the past while,” he said, adding he could not go into detail because of privacy and legal issues.
Romane said council decided to go ahead with the review even though Carritt is no longer on council as an effort to provide as much transparency as it can.
The budget for both investigations totals $25,000.
Council says in its statement it understands the “heightened public interest” in the code of conduct issues and it “remains committed t transparency accountability and responsible leadership.”