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An extensive four-year search that took the RCMP across the Pacific has ended in the arrest of a B.C. man accused of sexually assaulting young residential-school students in the 1960s.

Gordon Irvin Kinney, 65, was arrested Tuesday in Thailand, at a residence about 80 kilometres southeast of Bangkok, the RCMP confirmed yesterday.

"We've spent the last four years chasing after this guy and we've gone literally to the other side of the world to get him. It shows the RCMP's determination to put this matter to rest," said Corporal Mike Pacholuk with the major crimes unit.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued for the man in 2002, after he was charged with seven counts of gross indecency and indecent assault, which were related to his term as dormitory supervisor at St. Mary's Indian Residential School near Mission.

He was one of 13 people charged as a result of investigations led by the RCMP Native Indian Residential School Task Force.

The group examined nearly 1,000 separate allegations of physical and sexual abuse involving 15 church-run schools and almost 500 victims.

"It was just total destruction," said Cyril Pierre, a former student at St. Mary's, upon hearing of Mr. Kinney's arrest.

Mr. Pierre, 58, attended the school from age seven until 18 and was a complainant in the case involving Gerald Moran, who, at 78, was given a three-year sentence in 2004.

"The hatred just grew, the anger grew, the guilt grew, the shame, the self-pity, the suicidal thoughts, the perverted evil that lived with us for all of those years," Mr. Pierre said.

Mr. Moran, who was living as a monk in a Saskatchewan monastery until his trial, was convicted of 12 sexual-abuse charges relating to boys assaulted in the 1950s and 1960s at both St. Mary's and a school in Kamloops.

"This is stuff that we nightmare about for the rest of our life . . . But we're finding our way through the justice system, and thanks to them we're nailing the people that are responsible for these acts upon children that were innocent," Mr. Pierre said.

The RCMP set up the residential school task force in December, 1994, to investigate historic complaints of abuse at the schools. At least a third of the suspects are deceased.

When the task force dissolved in 2003, Mr. Kinney remained one of two outstanding arrests.

Police believe he left his home in Vancouver in 1999 and had traced him to Thailand after the warrant was issued in 2002.

The Thai government approved the RCMP's extradition application last year, but before police were able to arrest him, he fled again, this time, police believe, to the Philippines.

With the help of the Philippines National Police, the Royal Thai police and RCMP international liaison officers, Mr. Kinney was located 10 days ago in Thailand and was taken into custody this week.

The RCMP expect him to attend court there, after which they are confident he will face his charges back in Canada.

"I think in this particular case it shows that we are determined to get to the bottom of it," Cpl. Pacholuk said, noting that new complaints continue to be reported.

"It's devastated generations of young native children and you can see some of the effects right now. . . the poverty, the alcoholism."

The arrest leaves a sole outstanding warrant.

Still wanted is Edward Gerald Fitzgerald, a former employee at Lejac Indian Reservation School near Fraser Lake and at the Cariboo-St. Joseph's Indian Residential School near Williams Lake.

Although Mr. Fitzgerald is charged with 21 sex and common-assault-related offences, police are unable to arrest him.

He has fled to the Republic of Ireland, a country that does not share an extradition treaty with Canada.

"Until one gets signed," Cpl. Pacholuk said, "there's not a whole lot we can do to get him back and he knows it."

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