May 28th, 2024

Sex assault trial date could be set this month

By Lethbridge Herald on October 6, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

The lawyer for a 33-year-old Lethbridge man accused of sexually assaulting several women could set a date for trial when the accused returns to court at the end of the month.

Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette, who was only recently retained to represent Sohil Bindra, said last week in Lethbridge provincial court he still has to review disclosure before setting a trial date. He pointed out a pre-trial conference will also need to be held before a trial date can be scheduled.

Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox said the Crown is ready to proceed, and added he hopes Ouellette will remain counsel for the accused long enough to make some progress.

Fox was referring to the delays Bindra has caused after he fired his first lawyer in May, and his second lawyer in August.

Last month Ouellette told court he needed time to receive disclosure from the Crown’s office, and last Friday he said he received the information but needs time to review it with his client. Following the brief hearing Friday, he said the amount of disclosure is “voluminous.”

Police reported in March that an 18-year-old woman was sexually assaulted after attending a bar with a friend on Feb. 7. During the evening the pair met a man, and when the 18-year-old suddenly became unwell, he offered to drive the two friends to their homes. After taking the 18-year-old inside, the man left the residence.

He returned a short time later, however, entered the home and sexually assaulted the woman, police said. She was taken to Chinook Regional Hospital for treatment and released later in the day.

Police searched a suspect’s home and recovered evidence related to the offence, including the victim’s cellphone.

Bindra initially faced a single charge of housebreaking and two counts of sexual assault in relation to one woman, and had been released on bail. However, more charges were added later after five more women came forward and said they had also been sexually assaulted. One of the alleged assaults goes back to July 2017. The accused was taken into custody in March when he attended a court hearing and was subsequently denied bail.

Bindra pleaded not guilty March 12 to more than a dozen charges, comprising housebreaking and commit sexual assault, sexual assault, administering a noxious substance, drug possession and choking with intent to commit an indictable offence. He also faces an additional charge of failing to comply with release conditions.

The accused’s next appearance is set for Oct. 30.

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