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Drummer in Harper’s rock band charged with sexual assault on a minor

Phil Nolan (far right) who plays drums in the band that often accompanies Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is facing multiple charges of sexual assault and sexual interference. Harper and his band Herringbone receive applause after performing in Toronto on Sunday, December 1, 2013.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An award-winning Ottawa schoolteacher who played drums in a band with Stephen Harper has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault on a minor.

Ottawa police said Thursday that Phillip I. Nolan, who most recently taught music at Avalon Public School, has been charged with five counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation in connection with incidents that occurred between 1998 and 2000.

They said their investigation began last November after "a complaint of sexual assault on a minor by an adult male during the exercise of his functions as a teacher for grade 7 & 8."

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Police said they believe there may be more victims and are asking for anyone with information to come forward.

The charges against Mr. Nolan, 43, have not been tested in court.

Jason MacDonald, director of communications in the Prime Minister's Office, said Thursday was the first his office had heard of this.

"We are obviously shocked and disturbed by these serious charges," Mr. MacDonald said in a statement. "No allegations of this nature have ever been brought to our attention. Anyone found guilty of these charges should face the full force of the law."

Herringbone is an Ottawa-based three-man band that met Mr. Harper through "a friend of a friend," Mr. Nolan told The Globe and Mail in a 2009 interview. They've played with the Prime Minister for years and even jammed at 24 Sussex Drive.

Mr. Harper recently performed with Herringbone last December at the Jewish National Fund's Negev Dinner in Toronto. They reprised classic rock tunes by the Who, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

Speaking to the crowd during the Dec .1 performance, the Prime Minister described Mr. Nolan as "mild-mannered schoolteacher."

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The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said Mr. Nolan was removed from the classroom and assigned administrative duties during the investigation. Now that criminal charges have been laid, it said, he will be suspended.

On Herringbone's website, which stopped functioning late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Nolan's biography said he won the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board's Arts Educator of the Year award in 2005.

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Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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