Edmonton

Criminal charges withdrawn against former Edmonton prison guard

Trial on two charges was set to begin next May

Posted: July 23, 2019
Last Updated: July 23, 2019

Criminal charges have been withdrawn against former Edmonton prison guard Graham Spilsbury. (Correctional Service of Canada/Flickr)

Criminal charges have been withdrawn against a former guard at the Edmonton maximum security prison.

Graham Trevor Spilsbury was accused of sexually assaulting a female co-worker at the facility.

He pleaded not guilty last month to one count of sex assault and one count of assault with a weapon, namely a rubber glove. 

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The trial was scheduled to be held next May, but on Monday the Crown withdrew both criminal charges.

"After the trial date was booked, there was a material change in the evidence the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service had available and the charges were withdrawn," a spokesperson with Alberta Justice told CBC News.

The spokesperson declined to say what changed.

Defence lawyer Danielle Boisvert said in an email her client is "extremely relieved" the charges were withdrawn.

"He is looking forward to moving on with his life, with these allegations put behind him."   

Boisvert also wrote about the case in a Facebook post.

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"A reminder of one of our most fundamental principles of justice in a free society — the presumption of innocence. Despite it, a person's reputation in the Google age can be ruined before they are judged. Mr. Spilsbury maintained his innocence and the justice system, including fair-minded prosecutors came through for him." 

Spilsbury is one of the men at the centre of a $43-million lawsuit that alleges a culture of systemic harassment and abuse at the institution. 

According to a statement of claim filed with the court last year, Spilsbury, identified as John Doe #1, is referred to as "the chief tormenter" of one of the women.

He is accused of serial harassment of women, including inappropriate texts and conversations, waterboarding and throwing a urine-filled rubber glove at one of his female co-workers. 

Another woman alleged Spilsbury "would often pull his genitalia out of his pants and parade himself around the office." 

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court. 

It's unclear whether the withdrawal of criminal charges against Spilsbury will have any impact on the civil suit. Phone calls and emails to the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the civil case were not returned. 

In the fall of 2017, Correctional Service Canada alerted police to allegations of criminal conduct at the prison. An Edmonton police spokesperson confirmed an investigation had concluded earlier this year, and no one else will be charged. 

CSC has confirmed Spilsbury was one of six employees terminated following an internal disciplinary investigation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston