By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 8, 2024.
A 59-year-old Lethbridge man accused of holding two women against their will and sexually assaulting them, will be released on bail as soon as he’s able to attend a treatment centre.
Justice Jerry LeGrandeur agreed during a bail hearing this week in Lethbridge court of justice to release Bernard Alonzo Gibson from remand custody when the Opportunity Home Treatment Recovery Centre in Drayton Valley is ready to receive him.
Although the Crown was opposed to his release from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre, LeGrandeur agreed with Calgary lawyer Kirsten Lancee to let the accused attend the centre, which is about 140 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
LeGrandeur pointed out, however, that if Gibson does not complete the program or is discharged from the centre, he must turn himself into the nearest police station or he may be charged with breaching conditions of his release.
Gibson is charged with two counts of unlawful confinement, and single counts of assault, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault in relation to alleged offences against two women.
Although evidence presented to the court during the bail hearing cannot be published, police reported that on May 18 of last year police went to a residence in the 1500 block of 16 Avenue South after receiving a report from the landlord that there was an injured woman in the basement. EMS transported the 30-year-old victim to Chinook Regional Hospital, where she was admitted for treatment of extensive injuries.
Police reported that the woman met a man earlier in the month outside of Lethbridge and was driven into the city. She was taken to the southside home, unlawfully confined and repeatedly sexually assaulted for four days.
While police were at the home conducting an investigation, a man matching the suspect’s description returned and was arrested without incident.
Gibson is also charged with failing to comply with bail conditions, which stems from a previous incident last March in relation to another woman. Police said a woman was held against her will and assaulted for two days before she was able to escape.
Gibson pleaded not guilty to all the charges in November, and elected to be tried in Alberta Court of Justice.
The matter is set to return to court Feb. 13 for an update on the accused’s progress, although defence indicated he will likely still be in custody.