July 20th, 2024

Lawyers of Chinook students asking for time to review information

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 14, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Lawyers representing four Lethbridge high school students charged with assaulting a fellow student were back in court Wednesday asking for an adjournment to review information recently received from the Crown’s office.

“We did receive some disclosure today,” Lethbridge lawyer Steven Osmond confirmed in Lethbridge youth court. Osmond said the amount of disclosure is “fairly substantial,” and lawyers will need time to review it.

Calgary lawyer Brad Kraus, who had not yet received the disclosure, suggested the matter return Jan. 24 given the amount of information he also expects to receive.

“I understand the disclosure is quite voluminous and requires vetting from my friend’s (the Crown’s) office,” Kraus said. “It’s in excess of 2,500 pages from what I understand.”

Kraus said he will require some “lead” time to discuss the matter with the Crown prosecutor once he has received the disclosure.

The students, who are members of the Chinook High School football team and cannot be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, are each charged with sexual assault, assault and unlawful confinement.

Police reported that on Oct. 3 a boy was forcibly confined and sexually assaulted in a locker room at the high school after school hours. The following day police searched the school and seized what they described as a “weapon,” although they didn’t say what it is.

“There is no evidence to suggest any ongoing risk to other students in the relation of this matter and the school remains open,” Staff Sgt. Pete Christos said during a news conference Oct. 10. He added the incident was not part of a hazing, and no other members of the football team were involved.

The four boys, who are under 18 years of age, were charged several days after the Oct. 3 incident, then released from custody and ordered not to have any contact with the victim, who is also a member of the team, and not go to the high school or be on its grounds. They were not required to attend court on Wednesday.

The Crown previously said it will proceed by indictment, which is more serious than summary procedure and carries higher penalties.

The Lethbridge School Division, which consulted with an expert in trauma response, cancelled its football program for the season. It also expressed concern that some members of the football team were being harassed.

“Members of the football team, coaches and even families of players, have been targeted for hurtful and misinformed accusations and harassment,” the division said in a statement last month. “Anyone involved in this type of behaviour needs to stop immediately.

“We are disappointed this misinformation has been used to negatively impact how members of the football team are perceived and we apologize we were not able to do more to stem the tide of misinformation.”

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