By Shurtz, Delon on November 13, 2017.
A former educational assistant charged with sexual assault has decided to be tried by a Court of Queen’s Bench judge, and have a preliminary hearing.
An agent for the accused’s lawyer made the election Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, and suggested the hearing will require two days and likely won’t be held until the new year. A preliminary hearing typically determines whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial, and allows the Crown and defence to hear details of the case.
The accused, who can’t be named under a court-ordered publication ban to avoid possibly identifying any complainants, was a respite-care worker for people with developmental disabilities and an educational assistant with Palliser Regional Schools. He faces six counts of sexual assault, six counts of sexual interference, two counts of sexual exploitation and one count of invitation to sexual touching, all in relation to underage individuals. He also faces one count of breaching court orders.
RCMP reported earlier there was no indication any of the offences occurred at the school where the man worked.
The 27-year-old man was initially charged near the beginning of the year in relation to one young person, and he had pleaded not guilty to that charge and elected to be tried by judge alone. He was later charged in relation to three additional young people.
During Friday’s court appearance, defence had hoped to set a date for the preliminary hearing. However, Judge Jerry LeGrandeur said additional administrative paperwork needed to be completed first, and a pre-preliminary hearing conference should be held to determine how long the preliminary hearing will likely take.
The Crown noted the earliest suggested date for the hearing provided by defence is August 2018. But LeGrandeur said that is too far away and earlier dates should be available.
The matter is back in court Nov. 24 when the Crown and defence hope to schedule a specific date for the preliminary hearing.
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