By Shurtz, Delon on September 29, 2020.
A judge’s order that a man accused of luring an underage girl for sex appear in court with his lawyer or risk returning to jail, may be a moot point.
During a Court of Queen’s Bench hearing Sept. 14, Justice Dallas Miller ordered Gary James Lippa to return to court two weeks later with a new lawyer, or face the possibility of being placed in custody until he does.
It was still unclear whether Lippa had a lawyer Monday when his matter was in court, but he was already back in custody after being arrested on charges of breaching release conditions.
The accused was in isolation at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre and could not appear by closed-circuit TV. He was also unable to address the court by phone because he is hard of hearing. His matters in QB, as well as the recent breach charges in provincial court, were adjourned to Oct. 14, when he will be out of isolation and must appear in person, possibly with a sign language interpreter.
Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich said Lippa is in custody only on the provincial court charges, but the Crown wants to revoke his bail on the charges in QB.
Lippa, who fired his original lawyer several weeks ago, pleaded guilty in February to charges of sexual assault, child luring and making, printing and publishing child pornography. He wants to retract his guilty plea, however, and on Sept. 14 he told Miller he had been “badgered” into pleading guilty.
During the February hearing, court was told the accused dated the mother of the 13-year-old girl he lured into having sex with him, and often referred to the girl as his niece. After the relationship between Lippa and the girl’s mother ended, Lippa and the girl lost touch with each other until after she turned 13 in November 2016 and he began communicating with her online, often texting her graphic sexual comments and requesting nude photos of her.
In August 2017, the two met several times while she was in Lethbridge staying with friends of the family. On one occasion they went to his residence and had sex.
In September the girl’s mother found out she was inappropriately communicating with Lippa online and contacted the RCMP. The girl provided a statement to police and was told to stop communicating with Lippa, but he continued talking to her and helped her hide the communications from her family.
After the girl turned 14 Lippa continued to communicate with her sexually, then on Feb. 22, 2018 police arrested him, searched his home, and seized several electronic devices. At first Lippa denied having sex with the girl, but later admitted he did once.
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