October 22nd, 2020

New trial date set for man facing sex-related charges


By Shurtz, Delon on January 21, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A new trial date has been set for a 29-year-old man facing several sex-related charges from 2017.

The accused, who can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, was set to stand trial last month in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, but it was cancelled Dec. 9, an hour before it was scheduled to begin.

The eight-day trial is now scheduled to begin Nov. 16.

The accused, who was a respite-care worker for people with developmental disabilities, was charged early in 2017 with six counts of sexual assault, six counts of sexual interference, two counts of sexual exploitation and one count of invitation to sexual touching. However, he was ordered following a preliminary hearing in May 2018 to stand trial on four counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of invitation to sexual touching.

The man was originally charged 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.

Although the accused was set to stand trial last month, his lawyer, Patrick Fagan of Calgary, asked the judge on Dec. 6 to allow an adjournment so he could prepare for a last-minute decision by the Crown to call similar fact evidence. Similar fact evidence allows factual evidence of similar misconduct of an accused to be admitted at trial for the purpose of inferring that the accused committed the misconduct at issue.

Fagan had also asked to change the trial from judge alone to judge and jury.

Justice D.K. Miller rejected Fagan’s adjournment application, but said he could apply Dec. 9 in front of the trial judge to re-elect to have his client tried by a judge and jury. One hour before the trial was to begin Justice Johnna Kubik agreed to the re-election, and the trial was adjourned.

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