Former Southern Alberta Hutterite Teacher, Minister Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Students

48 year old Johan John Hofer of the Waterton Colony was sentenced to house arrest in Lethbridge Provicnial Court Tuesday.

A man from a Hutterite colony south of Pincher Creek was given house arrest Tuesday (May 7) after pleading guilty to seven counts of assault with a weapon.

48 year old Johan John Hofer was in Lethbridge Provincial Court. He was supposed to go to trial this week, however instead reached a plea deal with the Crown. In a joint submission, he was sentenced to two years less a day, to be served at his home on the Waterton Colony.

Court heard Hofer beat kids with sticks, tree branches, and straps as a form of discipline. In one incident, he used a lighter and put the flame underneath the fingers of a boy to try and teach him what the fires of hell would feel like. 

The incidents happened over a period of about ten years between 2005 and 2015. Hofer was the school headmaster at the Waterton Colony as well as a minister and head gardener.

Judge Derek Redman heard once the elders on the colony heard of the allegations a few years ago, Hofer was stripped of his duties as a German teacher as well as minister.

Hofer's defence lawyer stated his client did not intend to hurt the children, it was strictly a means of discipline. In some instances, the kids were bent over a stool and hit in front of classmates. The children were between the ages of 6 and 14. A few of them have since left the colony.

Judge Redman accepted the joint sentencing submission from the Crown and Defence. Prior to that however, he asked three Hutterite ministers for their opinions on how this has impacted the colony. He was told " we just want peace and respect and want to teach out children the same."

Hofer's sentence also includes several conditions.

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