By Delon Shurtz on December 23, 2020.
A Lethbridge man who was expected to resolve breach charges relating to a sexual assault and child-luring case has decided to stand trial instead.
Gary James Lippa was expected Monday in Lethbridge provincial court to resolve three counts of failing to comply with release orders. However, the accused’s lawyer, Scott Hadford, pleaded not guilty to the charges on behalf of his client and adjourned the matter to the case management office where a trial date was set for May 10, 2021.
Lippa, 40, is accused of accessing the internet in contravention of bail conditions that he not use or access the internet, not have the internet in his residence, and not possess any device capable of accessing the internet. The breach charges have been adjourned several times while defence dealt with Lippa’s sex-related charges in Court of Queen’s Bench.
Lippa pleaded guilty last February to charges of sexual assault, child luring and making, printing and publishing child pornography.
Lippa was set to begin a two-week trial on the sex charges on Feb. 19 this year, but on the first day of trial, even before the jury heard any evidence, he pleaded guilty. Five months later, however, he told court he wanted to apply to strike the guilty pleas, then in November he changed his mind again and abandoned his application.
Reading from an agreed statement of facts on Feb. 20, the Crown told court Lippa dated the mother of a young teenage girl he lured into having sex with him. After his relationship with the woman ended, Lippa and the girl lost touch with each other until after she turned 13 in November 2016 and he began 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, after the RCMP became aware of the relationship, the girl provided a statement to police and was told to stop communicating with the accused. They didn’t stop but Lippa helped the girl hide the communications from her family.
After the girl turned 14 Lippa continued to communicate sexually with the girl, and on Feb. 22, 2018 police arrested him, searched his home, and seized several electronic devices. At first he denied having sex with the girl, but later admitted he did once.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19, 2021 in front of Justice Dallas Miller.
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