Publication ban continues on name of N.L. lawyer charged with sexual assault
Identity to remain secret pending request to have nation’s top court consider anonymity arguments
A Newfoundland and Labrador lawyer facing charges of sexual assault and sexual interference has secured an extension of a publication ban shielding his name from being reported in relation to those criminal proceedings.
Justice James Adams issued the order at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's on Friday.
Earlier in the week, Adams ruled the ban would be lifted.
"His engaged interests amounted to no more than personal and professional embarrassment and possible loss of business," the judge wrote in his decision.
"These concerns did not meet the high bar of constituting an important public interest to which court openness would pose a serious risk."
The man immediately filed for a stay of that order, while he seeks leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada — a process that could take weeks or months.
Scott Hutchison — a partner with Toronto-based Henein Hutchison LLP who is representing the Newfoundland lawyer — said maintaining the ban for now is a "modest imposition" so the "machinery of justice can finish its work."
He said publication of the man's name now would do irreparable harm.
"It will be impossible to put the genie back in the bottle," Hutchison told the court.
The high-profile legal team representing the accused lawyer includes local lawyers Jerome Kennedy and Rosellen Sullivan.
CBC News and CTV News intervened in the case, successfully arguing the ban would interfere with the open-court principle, and freedom of the press.
The media outlets contested the application to extend the publication ban.
Pippa Leslie — a lawyer with McCarthy Tetrault LLP in Toronto representing CBC and CTV — reiterated that personal embarrassment can't outweigh charter rights to report on court proceedings.
Leslie called the accused lawyer's request a "significant impairment" of those rights.
Newfoundland and Labrador director of public prosecutions Lloyd Strickland said keeping the ban in place could cause "substantive harms to the public interest."
In a ruling from the bench, Adams granted a stay on his original decision, which means the publication ban will continue, at least for now.
However, the judge unsealed a raft of previously secret court documents related to the case that reveal more details about the pending criminal charges.
According to an affidavit the lawyer filed in court, he is accused of assaulting a 12-year-old girl in her mother's car while it was outside his law office in 2001.
In 2008, when she was 19, he is alleged to have assaulted her in his law office.
"I unequivocally deny each of these allegations in their entirety," the lawyer said in his affidavit.
He also claims that he hired a private investigator, who he says found information helpful to his defence.
The criminal proceedings are ongoing.
Two more charges of sexual assault have subsequently been filed involving the same alleged victim, for incidents alleged to have happened in 2012 and 2013.