October 19th, 2020

Sexual assault trial begins


By Shurtz, Delon on November 5, 2019.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A trial has begun for a 51-year-old Raymond man accused of sexually assaulting underage girls more than three decades ago.

The accused, who can’t be named under a court-ordered publication ban to protect the identity of the complainants, faces four counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference in relation to three women, who were children living in southern Alberta at the time of the alleged offences between 1986 and 1993.

The Crown anticipates calling seven witnesses over the course of the two-week trial in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, including the three complainants, who no longer live in the area and are expected to testify by closed-circuit TV.

Brittney Mae Small, former Picture Butte RCMP officer and the only Crown witness to testify Monday, told court she was the lead investigator on the file in October 2016. Small, who testified by CCTV from Glasgow, Scotland, where she now lives, said she was handed the file after police received a complaint from one woman, who then provided names of other women who had allegedly been assaulted when they were children. Small testified she “reached out” to the other women for their statements.

Another of the Crown’s witnesses, who is expected to testify today, is not one of the complainants in this case, but was a complainant with the other three women in a youth trial earlier this year involving the same accused.

In that trial the man was accused of sexually touching the four underage girls in the early 1980s when he was also a youth. He admitted during his trial in January that he sexually touched two of the girls on multiple occasions, but he only tried once to touch a third girl on her buttocks, and he never touched a fourth, at all, despite her testimony to the contrary.

During a sentencing hearing in March, Judge Timothy Hironaka dismissed additional charges of indecent assault and sexual assault, and said he was left with doubt following a complainant’s testimony given at trial. In June Hironaka sentenced the man to 60 days in jail – to be served on weekends – and 30 days of open custody on three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault.

Lethbridge lawyer Robert Bissett had recommended a suspended sentence, which suspends the passing of a sentence for a specified time and places the defendant on probation. The Crown had recommended a jail sentence of six to 12 months with probation.

Although charged as a youth in that case, the Crown alleged the man also assaulted three of the girls after he turned 18 and legally became an adult. Those are allegations for which he is on trial for the next two weeks.

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