Lethbridge Herald

Sex assault sentencing hearing set for April 21

- Delon Shurtz LETHBRIDGE HERALD dshurtz@lethbridge­herald.com

A 51-year-old Raymond man sentenced last June for sexually assaulting three underage girls when he was a youth more than three decades ago, will be sentenced later this spring for sexually assaulting two of the girls when he was an adult.

Following a trial in November, Madam Justice Johnna Kubik convicted the man — who can’t be named to protect the identities of the complainan­ts — on two counts of sexual assault in relation to the two girls, who are now adults, but found him not guilty of sexual assault and sexual interferen­ce in relation to a third girl.

Sentencing was adjourned until the new year, and Monday during a brief hearing in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench a sentencing hearing was set for April 21. In the meantime the accused, who did not attend Monday’s hearing, remains out of custody.

The man previously admitted he assaulted one of the women multiple times after he turned 18 in August 1986, but before he left on a two-year mission for his church in 1987. He denied he assaulted the second woman around the same time, and denied he assaulted the third woman, who testified during trial he sexually assaulted her up to one week before his wedding in 1993.

Lethbridge lawyer Robert Bissett invited the judge during his closing arguments in November to convict his client on one count of sexual assault in relation to one woman, but he said the other two women were simply confused about the dates of the assaults, which actually occurred when the accused was a youth, not an adult.

Although the accused never forced the women to participat­e in the sex acts — they were between the ages of eight and 13 — they were too young to legally consent, which resulted in the charges. The man was charged after one complainan­t reported the assaults to RCMP in 2016. The other victims were then contacted by the police.

Reading from her written decision, Kubik said in December the two women who claimed the man assaulted them after he was 18 but before he left on a mission provided reliable and credible evidence and recalled specific incidents.

Their abuser, however, was not a credible witness, Kubik said, and his partial admissions and denials were inconsiste­nt with other evidence.

The third woman, could only offer “snippets” of memories, which were incomplete and possibly inaccurate. Divergent evidence also suggests the accused couldn’t have committed the offences at the times alleged, given such factors as his work schedule.

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