Apr 17, 2019

Former Kingsville fire chief Robert Kissner convicted of nine sex-related charges- Kissner used his position as fire chief to groom subordinates, some of whom were high school co-op students

A former local fire chief is likely facing some jail time after being convicted of sex-related offences.

Former Kingsville Fire Chief Robert Kissner was found guilty of five counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual exploitation, in a judgement presented by Ontario Superior Court Justice Pamela Hebner in a three-hour hearing Tuesday. Kissner was acquitted of eight other counts, including sexual assault and sexual interference.

Kissner sat dejected at the defence table after the judgement was read and declined comment after the hearing. His lawyer, Kenneth Marley, was hoping the judge would have gone a different way on a few more of those charges.

“He’s very shaken, because I think, like me, he expected a different result in relation to some of those counts,” said Marley. “He knows he’s facing the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence and that’s a very serious matter for anyone.”

The 17 charges were brought after eight men came forward, saying that Kissner inappropriately and sexually touched them over two decades. Some of those complainants were underage when the offences took place. The victims are not being identified due to a publication ban imposed by Hebner.

Assistant Crown attorney Jennifer Holmes had argued during the trial that Kissner used his position as fire chief to groom subordinates, some of whom were high school co-op students. Kissner denied that any behaviour was in the form of harassment. Marley pointed out that both Hebner and Holmes put a lot of focus on the fact that Kissner owned up to some of the conduct when he took the stand in his own defence.

“One of the hallmarks of his credibility in the trial was he admitted to things that the complainants hadn’t even talked about,” said Marley. “He admitted to them, he testified about them so the judge understood the context of the relationship.”

A sentencing hearing for the former chief is set for June 28. Kissner still faces two other sex-related charges laid by the Ontario Provincial Police last month after another complaint.  Those charges will be tried separately.

This article originally appeared in Blackburn News

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