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Trial against former B.C. Indigenous leader Ed John ended as Crown stays sex charges

Trial halted Tuesday following discrepancies in complainant’s testimony
Grand Chief Edward John takes part in a gathering in Vancouver on September 11, 2014. An abrupt stay of proceedings has been directed in the sex assault trial of the former B.C. cabinet minister and Indigenous leader.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. Prosecution Service says a stay of proceedings has been directed in the sex assault trial of former provincial cabinet minister and Indigenous leader Edward John.

The decision to halt the case in the B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George follows cross-examination of a complainant in allegations that date back to 1974.

Justice Terence Schultes called an early break in proceedings when the woman, now in her 60s, broke down in tears under questioning from John’s defence lawyer, Tony Paisana.

Paisana had said there were inconsistencies between statements she provided to authorities about the alleged assaults, which were said to have occurred when John was executive director of the Doh Day De Claa Friendship Centre, where his accuser had a summer job.

The woman replied that the discrepancies were due to the stress she was under and that the memories became clearer as she talked about them.

“I didn’t lie on purpose,” she said.

The woman expressed frustration with Paisana’s questioning, prompting Schultes to intervene to try to to calm her down.

Nearly an hour into the proceedings on Tuesday (July 27) morning, she said: “I’m sorry, I need a break.”

Prosecutor Michael Klein met with the woman in an interview room and when Klein returned to the courtroom about an hour later, he told Schultes the case would not proceed against 71-year-old John, who has pleaded not guilty.

The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement the charges were stayed because the charge assessment standard, which requires a substantial likelihood of conviction and that charges be in the public interest, was no longer met.

John, a lawyer and hereditary chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation, was appointed to the B.C. cabinet and served as minister for the Children’s Ministry in the New Democrat government between November 2000 and June 2001.

Mark Nielsen, Prince George Citizen, The Canadian Press

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