November 27th, 2020

2021 court date set for man facing several sex-related charges

By Shurtz, Delon on October 28, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

A trial for a 30-year-old man facing several sex-related charges from 2017 is set to begin next year, barring any more adjournments.

The matter has already been adjourned three times. The accused, who can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, was set to stand trial by judge alone in December 2019 in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench. It was cancelled, however, after defence re-elected for trial by judge an jury. The trial was then set for this November, but moved ahead to July before it had to be cancelled again because of COVID-19. The matter was back in court Monday where the trial was rescheduled again, this time for June 2021.

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.

The trial has also been delayed while the court addresses three pre-trial applications relating to the right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time after being charged, hearsay evidence, and 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.

The initial trial set for December 2019 was cancelled after Calgary lawyer Patrick Fagan asked the judge for an adjournment so he could prepare for a last-minute decision by the Crown to call similar fact evidence.

Madam Justice Johnna Kubik is scheduled to give her decision on the three applications Dec. 2.

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