October 21st, 2020

Sex assault suspect denies allegations


By Shurtz, Delon on December 17, 2019.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A southern Alberta man on trial for several sex-related offences against an underage girl in 2017 took the stand Monday and adamantly denied the allegations against him.

The accused, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the complainant, testified in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench he never had any inappropriate contact with the girl, despite her accusations he touched her buttocks and thigh when she was only 13 or 14 years old, then convinced her to provide sexual favours when she was 17.

Each time Lethbridge lawyer Greg White asked whether his client did what the complained alleged, he simply said “no sir.”

The prosecution accuses the man of paying the girl to have sex and perform sexual acts with him, and during trial in May court was told the two had liaisons in several locations, including his truck, at his residence and at the campground he managed.

The 76-year-old man is charged with several criminal offences, including sexual assault, threats to cause death, sexual exploitation, obtaining sexual services and unlawful harassment.

The complainant, who is now an adult, testified during the Crown’s case earlier this year, that she began working for the accused at a campground in a small, rural community in southern Alberta, and for several days lived in a motor home on site. The complainant testified the two of them had sex most days she worked, and was paid $100 each time. She admitted she never actually did any work, and they both knew when he called her, it meant they were going to have sex.

She described the incidents in detail, often giving vivid descriptions of each liaison and where they were held, including in the basement of the accused’s home.

The accused admitted Monday the girl had been at his home twice, the first time with his grandson, but they never entered the home. The second time she came with her brother and a friend and they briefly went into the basement before leaving. The accused pointed out he has a security camera in his basement that provides continuous real-time, not recorded, video.

Much of the testimony given Monday confirmed previous testimony by defence witnesses who described the accused as a hard-working, respected man of good character. Several witnesses took the stand in June and vouched for the man’s character. Even the mayor of the rural town said the accused is a hard-working, community-minded individual known for his integrity and honesty.

Defence has also questioned the man’s ability to pay the complainant the significant amount of money she claimed to have earned from sexual favours. The accused, who had his 2017 tax forms, is on fixed income, and he told court he only makes about $800 a month as a janitor, and $900 a month during the summer as a campground contractor. He earns even less during the winter months.

Much of his time, he said, is spent volunteering in his community and helping others whenever he can.

“Money doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said, adding he only needs enough for food and a home.

The trial is scheduled to continue today.

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