April 23rd, 2024

Doctor acquitted following trial in human trafficking case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 17, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Calgary physician charged in relation to a human trafficking case has been found not guilty of several sex-related charges.

Following a week-long trial in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench, Justice Dallas Miller acquitted Ziyaad Noor on charges of sexual contact with a child, sexual interference and sexual assault of a person under the age of 16.

“Dr. Noor had faith that our experienced trial judge would make the right decision,” Calgary lawyer James Hawkins wrote in a statement on behalf of his client. “He has always maintained his innocence and is looking forward to putting this behind him.”

Noor is one of eight men and two youth who were charged in August of 2021 with numerous sex-related offences. Police reported several men groomed an underage girl and took her to various locations where sex offences took place. Additional victims came forward later in connection with the investigation, police said.

Noor, who practiced medicine in Lethbridge and Calgary, was released from custody Aug. 24, 2021 on $10,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty in March of 2022, and elected to be tried in Alberta Court of Justice on several sex-related charges, including trafficking in persons, and a trial was later scheduled to run in January of last year.

During a hearing the previous December, however, Noor re-elected to be tried by a Court of King’s Bench judge and jury with a preliminary inquiry, and the trial in the lower court was vacated. By the time the trial ran last week, most of the charges had already been withdrawn.

Miller noted in his decision for acquittal that the Crown failed to prove Noor knew the girl was underage, or that a sexual assault beyond a reasonable had actually occurred.

The girl, who testified on the first day Noor’s trial in Court of King’s Bench, said that in June, 2021 she had been taken to a room in a Westside home where she was assaulted.

“I didn’t want to go to their house, I didn’t trust them, I didn’t feel safe,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t have a choice.”

During cross-examination by defence, the girl admitted the bedroom she was in was dark, and acknowledged she had told police it was actually “pitch black.” She said, however, she could still see the man’s black-framed, rectangular glasses and the shape of his body.

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