Sudbury

Sexual assault trials of Sudbury track coach and sprinter to go ahead despite court delays

Sexual assault charges against a Sudbury track coach and one of his former sprinters will go to trial, despite taking more than 30 months since they were first laid.

Sexual assault trials set for January, more than 30 months since charges were laid

Former Sudbury sprinter Celine Loyer and track coach David Case are set to go on trial for sexual assault in January. (Facebook)

Most of what happens in a courthouse isn't dramatic. Much of the court's time is taken up with scheduling, with lawyers, judges and others figuring out when to meet again as they get ready for a trial.

But rarely is that the focus of what is actually discussed in a courtroom. 

Those details were front and centre in a Sudbury court Monday, as lawyers for a well-known local track coach and his former star pupil pushed for sexual assault charges to be dropped.

David Case and Celine Loyer are set to go to trial in January, some 30 months since the charges were first laid.

That is past the deadline set by the Supreme Court in the landmark 2016 Jordan decision. 

Case's lawyer Nicholas Xynnis argued that the delays were "unreasonable" especially considering the charges are  "very simple files"  that required "no specialized lawyering."

But assistant Crown attorney Stephanie Baker argued that this is a complex case with several alleged victims, who have changed over time.

There are now two women who say they were assaulted between 2009 and 2011—one who accuses both Loyer and Case of sexual assault and another accusing just Case. 

Case and Loyer both attended court, although they weren't required to. They sat apart and didn't acknowledge each other.

'You have to jump up and down'

The Crown says one of the main reasons for the delays were Loyer's struggles to get Legal Aid funding to hire a defence lawyer.

The lawyer who is representing her now, Michael Haraschuk, argued that shouldn't be a factor, but Justice Alexander Kurke took issue with that. 

"What if it took her 30 months to get Legal Aid?" he told the court.

Justice Kurke also questioned why previous defence lawyers handling this case didn't do more to protest scheduling delays by the Crown. 

"Jordan says you have to jump up and down," said Kurke.

"People have all kinds of unreasonable reasons to do all kinds of things."

Xynnis said the lawyer who represented Case before him "could have been more vociferous" but that the defence has little control over how quickly the process moves.

"This is how matters were going to proceed, no matter what he said," said Xynnis. 

Justice Kurke told the court he was wrestling with this case and how to determine which delays in the court process are "unreasonable," which to blame on the defence and which on the Crown.

He said he worried that the Jordan decision could become a weapon used by lawyers at the expense of the justice system. 

"How do we make sure we are not turning a shield into a sword?" said Kurke.

In the end, the judge ruled that the charges stay and the two trials will go ahead in January, but he did not give the reasons for his decision. 

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca