April 22nd, 2024

Two high school football players plead not guilty to assault charges

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 15, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Two of four Lethbridge high school students accused of assaulting a fellow student last fall have pleaded not guilty to their charges.

Lethbridge lawyer Steven Osmond and Calgary lawyer Brad Kraus entered pleas Wednesday on behalf of their clients, to charges of sexual assault with a weapon, assault with a weapon and unlawful confinement. Lethbridge lawyer Justin Dean did not enter pleas in Lethbridge youth court for a third accused, and said defence needs more time to discuss the case, including the potential for resolution, with the Crown.

The charge of assault with a weapon against the fourth accused was changed to common assault, and it was referred to judicial sanctions, which holds a young person accountable without proceeding through the formal court process. He did not enter pleas Wednesday, and his other two charges were adjourned with the other co-accused to Feb. 28.

The students are members of the Chinook High School football team and cannot be identified under a court-ordered publication ban because of their age.

Police reported that on Oct. 3 of last year 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 provide a description.

“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. 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.

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