Child pornography charges against Manitoba man stayed due to court delays
Douglas Alex Kuluk was charged in May 2019, trial scheduled for June 2021; charges were stayed last year
A former Red River College instructor is no longer facing child pornography charges after a Manitoba judge agreed he waited too long for a trial.
Douglas Alex Kuluk was charged in May 2019 with possessing and distributing child pornography.
After several delays, his trial was scheduled to begin on June 21, 2021 — more than two years after he was arrested.
However, Kuluk successfully applied for a stay of proceedings in the case, contending his right to be tried within a reasonable time had been breached.
The charge was officially stayed in a provincial court decision delivered in May 2021.
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2016, commonly known as the Jordan decision, established that provincial court trials should be completed within 18 months of charges being laid, which can be extended to 30 months if there's a preliminary inquiry. Superior court cases have up to 30 months to be completed.
Kuluk's case was delayed numerous times, according to a transcript of provincial court Judge Wanda Garreck's May 18, 2021, decision, which did not come to light until months after it was delivered.
It says the first delay was because Kuluk's original defence counsel moved and he needed to find a new lawyer.
By October 2019, it appeared Kuluk would be tried within a reasonable time frame, as he elected to have a preliminary hearing and then a Court of Queen's Bench trial, the decision says.
However, the Crown wanted to proceed without a pretrial, and the case was moved from Queen's Bench to Manitoba provincial court without the pretrial as of April 2020.
As of May 2020, trial dates were set for June 2021, though it was outside the 18-month time limit for provincial court cases.
Defence did not consent to delay
The Crown argued Kuluk and his defence counsel had consented to holding the trial outside the 18-month period, the decision says.
However, Judge Garreck disagreed, saying Crown prosecutors did nothing to seek a formal waiver for the delay.
She also pointed out that Kuluk's defence counsel had expressed concerns about the delay numerous times.
"There was absolutely no evidence that defence gave up on any of the earlier concerns from moving the matter forward. There was no change of position, expressed or implied," she told the court.
"The Crown was well aware of their concern and the Crown was well aware the dates being set were well outside of the 18-month ceiling."
As a result, a judicial stay of proceedings was entered on both charges.
When he was charged, Kuluk was an instructor at Red River College (now called Red River College Polytechnic) and was placed on immediate leave.
A spokesperson for the college confirmed Wednesday he is no longer employed there.