Interior Health’s top doctor has been released on bail after being charged with two sex crimes against a child.
Dr. Albert de Villiers, the health authority’s chief medical health officer, was arrested in Kelowna on June 8 and charged with sexual assault and sexual interference. Both offences are alleged to have occurred in Grande Prairie, Alta., between 2018 and 2020.
De Villiers, 52, appeared in court in Kelowna by phone on June 9 for a bail hearing after spending a night in police custody.
The BC Prosecution Service confirmed de Villiers was released on a promise to pay $1,500 if he breaches the conditions of his release. Other bail conditions include De Villiers having no contact with his alleged victim or the victim’s family and staying away from areas where children under 16 are known to be present, including public parks, swimming areas, community centres, schools and playgrounds. In addition, he has surrendered his passport.
The Grande Prairie RCMP stated the charges are related to its investigation of alleged sexual offences against a young child reported to them on May 28.
The 52-year-old de Villiers previously served as the lead medical health officer for Alberta’s north zone for several years and was based out of Grande Prairie. He arrived in Interior Health in August 2020.
Interior Health has removed de Villiers’ name from its website. The health authority has yet to comment on the matter, but confirmed the chief medical health officer role will be filled on an interim basis for the remainder of this week, with Dr. Sue Pollock stepping into the position at the beginning of next week.
Pollock previously served as Interior Health’s interim chief medical health officer between January 2020 and August 2020.
De Villiers is next scheduled to appear in court in Grande Prairie on June 30.
Many unanswered questions
KTW asked Interior Health a number of questions pertaining to the issue:
• Is de Villiers still employed with Interior Health?
• Is he on leave? If so, is it paid or unpaid?
• What is Interior Health’s policy with respect to employees who have been charged with a criminal offence? When that happens, what mechanism comes into place regarding employment status, leave status and whether an employee retains their job?
• If an employee is convicted of a serious crime, are they then terminated?
Interior Health’s response was limited.
“As this is an ongoing police investigation, we will not be providing further comment and inquiries should be directed to the RCMP. Interior Health policies and processes related to any employee matter align with all applicable federal and provincial laws, including employment standards, human rights, occupational health and safety and privacy legislation, and principles of procedural fairness and, where relevant, union collective agreements."
Interior Health did confirm that the role of chief medical health officer does not include interacting with clients or patients.