Court delays halted sex assault charges, says alleged victim

An Airdrie woman says court delays led to sexual assault charges against the man she accused being dropped.

Wildrose on the attack in the legislature claiming a shortage of Crown prosecutors was to blame

Lengthy court delays resulted in sexual assault charges against a man being thrown out. 2:34

An Airdrie woman says court delays led to sexual assault charges against the man she accused being dropped.

The case was brought up in the legislature Thursday by area MLA Rob Anderson of the Wildrose Party.

He claimed a shortage of Crown prosecutors was to blame for the delay.

"Premier, I want to know what kind of pathetic excuse for a justice system charges an individual for violating an innocent girl for eight years and then denies that victim her day in court," said Anderson. 

Premier Alison Redford responded by saying it's an appropriate question for an MLA representing their constituency to ask.

"I won't make political hay of this," she said. "I won't respond at this point in time. We'll look into this matter and provide appropriate comment back."

Anderson replied by saying, "You better start thinking about the girl instead of your political skin."

Alleged victim speaks

The woman, who cannot be identified, says the sexual abuse started when she was nine and went on for eight years. She didn't tell anyone about it until she was 23 years old.

The woman says she found out last month the charges were being stayed after three years.

"I was just shocked," she said. 

"If I even knew that this was a possibility that something like this could happen, that wasn't even explained to you. I would have done anything I could have to get it through as fast as I could."

The woman feels the system failed her.

Alberta Justice says the stay of proceedings was not because of a shortage of Crown prosecutors.

Assistant deputy minister Greg Lepp says he's looking into what caused the delay.

Review to take place

"A review will be conducted in detail of this particular matter and we'll go through step-by-step to see what happened to ensure that appropriate steps can be taken in the future to prevent these occurrences from taking place again," he said.

Lepp says staying a case because of delays is unusual in Alberta, especially for charges as serious as this.

He says a preliminary trial was held and a date set for trial, but the judge determined it had taken too long and issued a stay.

"And that doesn't minimize what happened in this particular case," said Lepp. 

"It was terrible that we couldn't proceed with this case in court, but if you put things in perspective — fortunately for Alberta — we don't have very many of these cases at all on an annual basis, just a small handful."