It was to be Anne Kneale’s greatest adventure – a month-long trip to Kenya with a youth group that encouraged her to be the best she could be.
Almost six years later, in a London courtroom, the man she calls “a poisonous influence” who led that trip finally owned up to the pain he caused when he had sex with her on a train to Nairobi when she was just 17.
“Guilty,” Bill Mates, Ingersoll’s former economic development officer, said Monday after the sexual exploitation charge was read out.
For Kneale, 23, a Western University medical student, who asked the court to revoke a publication ban that protected her identity, it was “a shock” to hear her former mentor admit his crime on the same day he was supposed to begin a two-week jury trial.
“Up until now,” she said, “he had shown no regard for my state of mind.”
“It felt good in a sense for him to verify, to corroborate that I was telling the truth, that he admits to it,” she said after the court hearing. “But I feel like he only did it because he was forced into a corner – It just seemed like the best option for him and he wasn’t thinking about (the youth on the trip) as such.”
Kneale decided to reveal her identity “out of concern that there may be other victims and out of concern with the predatory way that Bill acted.”
“I wanted to it all to come out – for him to be seen for who he was,” she said.
Mates, 59, had been a trusted friend of the Kneale family and the regional field officer for the Duke of Edinburgh awards for high-achieving youth ages of 14 to 24.
The program encourages new skills, charity work and opens doors for significant educational scholarships.
Kneale’s older sister was in the program, and Kneale joined when she was 14.
Assistant Crown attorney Laurie Tuttle told Superior Court Justice Kelly Gorman that Kneale saw Mates “as a father figure” and confided in him on a number of personal issues. He chaperoned camping trips and other activities and had written reference letters for her.
The month-long Kenya trip was in July 2007, the month before she would turn 18. Sixteen youth and three adults, including Mates, travelled to Africa together. Mates was well liked and would sometimes drink with the young charges.
Others picked up indications Mates and Kneale were close. They were seen hugging and shared personal information, the court heard.
Mates told her about his girlfriend.
Once, Mates told her she “looked like a Bond girl” when he saw her walking out of the ocean wearing a bikini. He said he was “horny” and that it was difficult to be away from home.
The sexual encounter happened during the last train ride of the trip from Mombasa to Nairobi on July 30, 2007. That morning, Kneale came out of her sleeping compartment and found Mates sitting on some canvas bags. She sat down and talked to him.
Mates pulled her to the small bathroom. He locked the door behind him, Tuttle said. Kneale wasn’t fearful and thought Mates wanted to “tell a secret.” Instead, he pulled up her shirt.
Tuttle said Kneale said “no” and pulled down her top. Mates began to kiss her and she “basically just acquiesced.” Her mindset, the assistant Crown attorney said, was that there was going to be a sexual act and “to just get it over with.”
Mates took off her clothes, had Kneale perform a sex act and then had intercourse. The sex ended when they heard someone looking for Kneale. Mates told Kneale to dress and she left the bathroom for a debriefing of the trip.
Tuttle said Kneale felt “embarrassed,” and that the best way to deal with it was “don’t deal with it.”
Later, Mates read Kneale sexually charged poetry by Gabriel Marquez and told her “they had unfinished business.”
Kneale told her boyfriend two weeks later what happened when she met him and her family in Paris. She didn’t mention it again for three years, began her engineering studies at Queen’s University in Kingston and “had a difficult time not blaming herself.”
When she heard her sister was meeting Mates for lunch, Kneale disclosed what happened to a counsellor, who then called the Kingston police.
“It made me realize that he was still intertwined in our lives; he was contacting her,” Kneale said after the hearing. “I just wanted this poisonous influence out of my life.”
Tuttle said Mates also told his girlfriend about the sexual encounter. She reported him to his employer, not the police, and he lost his job.
When he was arrested in 2011, he denied what happened, then ultimately admitted to having sex with Kneale.
A sentencing date will be set May 10.
Kneale said she will work on her victim impact statement and try to put into words her anxiety, fear and how she threw herself into her studies as a distraction from her pain.
“He was there to take care of us as students, as youth,” she said. “He was there to protect us and be the responsible adult in a foreign country. He totally abused that vulnerability that we had.”