Daycare owner wins new trial on child-sex assault charges

It’s the second time Jeffrey Wills has won a new trial because of a judge’s mistake.

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Jeffrey Wills, the Ottawa daycare owner convicted of preying on two young girls in his care, has won a new trial.

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A file photo of Jeffrey Wills.
A file photo of Jeffrey Wills. Facebook

His conviction has been set aside after Ontario’s appeal court ruled the trial judge incorrectly admitted discreditable-conduct evidence that happened years after the daycare charges.

The appeal court said it was an error to allow evidence about Wills masturbating in his living room with windows open for three afternoons in October 2016.

Two neighbours reported it to police after taking photographs and a video of Wills naked and masturbating. Wills was charged, tried and convicted of public nudity and breach of his bail conditions.

Wills, now 48, was originally sentenced to five years in prison. He was also banned for 15 years from any public place where children gather, including community centres, pools and playgrounds.

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At his sentencing hearing in 2015, the parents of the young girls said Wills’ evil deeds had shattered their lives. Both families moved from the neighbourhood.

One father said his daughter was now fearful of men — including him.

The mother of the other victim also spoke at sentencing, saying her family’s world had changed and it felt dirty.

“She deserved a carefree childhood. She had it, but you took it away,” she said, referring to Wills.

Wills, originally convicted of sex crimes against the two girls at the time aged three and five, awaits a new trial.

It’s the second time Wills has won a new trial because of a judge’s mistake.

At his original trial, in 2015, Wills maintained his innocence but the judge said the evidence of the two young girls was “accurate, truthful and reliable.” In December 2016, the Court of Appeal ruled the children’s unsworn statements shouldn’t have been accepted as evidence.

Wills was convicted again in 2018.

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