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Two months before sex assault trial, well-known Ottawa teacher and basketball coach dies

A former Ottawa teacher and basketball coach who was facing a raft of historic sexual assault charges has died at home only two months before he was to stand trial.

Donald Greenham, 75, died of a heart attack Sunday at his home in Addison, near Brockville, criminal defence lawyer Sean May said.

“There’s no questions that the stress of this kind of case is difficult on anyone physically,” May said Tuesday. “It’s just a sad, sad thing.”

May said his client had every intention of contesting the allegations against him. “He was always prepared to go to trial and defend himself: He steadfastly maintained his innocence,” May said. “When I met with him recently, we were preparing actively for his upcoming trial date.”

Greenham faced dozens of charges, including gross indecency and indecent assault, in connection with 15 people who complained to police about sexual abuse they suffered as students in the 1970s and 1980s

Greenham, a well-known basketball coach at Bell High School, was scheduled to begin a five-week criminal trial on May 14.

The trial is expected to be formally cancelled and the charges withdrawn once the Greenham family provides an official death certificate.

Charges were first laid against the retired educator in August 2016 for offences that allegedly occurred between 1970 and 1982 while he was a teacher with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

At the time, Greenham was the celebrated coach of the Bell Bruins boys’ junior and senior basketball teams, which complied a 388-35 won-lost record under his direction. Bell High School was then a perennial basketball powerhouse and won three senior regional championship titles with Greenham as coach.

He retired as a basketball coach in 1982.

After the initial charges were publicized, more people came forward with allegations against Greenham. Most of the complainants are male, and were between 12 and 16 years old at the time of the alleged incidents.

It’s not clear whether the complainants will ever have their stories heard now. A spokesperson for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board could not be reached for comment Tuesday as to whether or not it will conduct any kind of review in the case.

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