LETHBRIDGE – A 49-year-old Raymond man accused of historic sex crimes as a youth, has entered pleas of not guilty as he intends to take the matter to trial.
The accused – who also faces sexual abuse allegations as an adult – cannot be named as he was a youth at the time of some of the alleged offences. The Crown says the crimes occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
The plea came after the defence was denied on a pair of applications – including one that would have seen him learn what sentencing legislation he would be sentenced under, if convicted.
At a hearing in June, defence lawyer Robert Bissett argued that if his client is found guilty, he should be sentenced under either the Juvenile Delinquents Act (1908-1984) or the Young Offenders Act (1984-2003), instead of the current Youth Criminal Justice Act (2003). He explained that under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if a law has changed since the commission of an offence, an offender should receive the benefit of the “lesser punishment” between the old and new law.
Despite not having even entered pleas at that time, Bissett said it would leave his client at a disadvantage to proceed without knowing how the law would apply to him.
After adjourning the matter to consider it, Judge Derek Redman returned with a decision Wednesday, July 11, saying that it is not the appropriate time to make such a determination, and that it should only come after a conviction – whether that’s through a finding of guilt after a trial or a guilty plea – and after the court has all of the available facts established.
“To decide now would be to make a decision based on speculation,” Redman concluded.
A defence application for a preliminary hearing on the youth matters were also denied, with Redman noting that legislation does not allow the option in youth matters. A prelim is used to determine if there is enough evidence for a matter to proceed to trial.
Following those decisions and the entering of pleas, the case was adjourned to July 18.
The accused’s adult charges meanwhile have already been scheduled for a three-day preliminary hearing in November.
According to Picture Butte RCMP, they were contacted by a victim in September of 2016 who reported that when she was a child she had been sexually abused by a man known to her. Through their investigation, police say three additional women came forward with allegations that they had suffered similar assaults.
All of the alleged offences occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, with incidents beginning when the accused was a youth and continuing into adulthood.
Charges against him include sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.
He is currently out of custody with bail conditions that bar him from having contact with anyone under the age of 18.
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