A sexual assault charge against a Sturgeon Lake man was dismissed today by a Prince Albert judge after the complainant did not come forward to testify.
Duane Conrad Moosehunter, of Sturgeon Lake First Nation, initially pleaded not guilty to the charge against him, which Crown said stemmed from an incident which allegedly took place at Sturgeon Lake in July or August. A two-day trial was scheduled, but Queen’s Bench Justice Brian Scherman dismissed the charge this morning after the Crown announced it has no evidence against Moosehunter to present to the court.
Senior Crown prosecutor Catherine Gagnon said without the testimony she was not confident the Crown could pursue its case against Moosehunter. The complainant's identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban.
“[They] didn’t want to testify,” Gagnon told paNOW outside the courtroom. “Since I’m not able to meet my burden as the Crown anymore, I’m not going ahead.”
The Crown could alternatively have stayed the charge against Moosehunter, but Gagnon said she has no intention of reopening the file and so the charge was dismissed outright.
Gagnon said it is quite common for key witnesses to change their minds about testifying at the eleventh hour, particularly in cases involving alleged sexual crimes or domestic violence.
“With sexual assaults, it’s very common,” she said. “There’s a lot of things that can happen.”
Gagnon said the complainant and Moosehunter were known to each other, but was unable to confirm whether or not the witness maintains the incident occurred.
Moosehunter’s lawyer, Dannielle DesRoches, declined to comment on the dismissal.
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