Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Report of the trial of an Albertan accused of sexual assault against sex workers

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In accordance with section 530 of the Criminal Code, the accused, Richard Robert Mantha, requested that his trial at the Alberta Court of Justice in Calgary be conducted in French, which was granted. (Archive photo)

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The trial of Richard Robert Mantha was scheduled to begin Monday at the Alberta Court of Justice in Calgary, but was adjourned at the request of the defense.

Judge Judith Shrier deplored the further delay in the trial, but nevertheless accepted the defense's request to adjourn the case until Wednesday.

Defense attorney Kim Arial plans to ask the judge to order separate trials for each alleged victim, seven in total.

The separation motion has not yet been filed, but the defense and Crown have agreed that it will be submitted by the end of the day Monday. While the filing of this motion is expected to last only one day, it is not yet known when Judge Shrier will issue her decision.

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Suspected serial rapist Richard Robert Mantha faces 20 counts, including sexual assault with a weapon, kidnapping, and drugging and raping women. The 59-year-old accused's alleged victims are or were involved in the sex trade in Calgary.

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Alleged Alberta serial rapist Richard Robert Mantha, known as Poncho to alleged victims, is charged multiple sexual assaults on Calgary sex workers between 2020 and 2023. (File photo)

If prosecutor Dominique Mathurin did not object to the postponement of the trial on Monday, she emphasizes that this is largely due to the fact that she has not yet received the defense's request to separate the trials of each alleged victim.

The Crown also expressed concern that if the request for separate trials is granted, some of the complainants will be forced to testify three, or even four, times.

At the courthouse Monday morning, Kim Arial asked that consideration of the request be postponed for two days due to the voluminous nature of the disclosure she obtained.< /p>

The defense lawyer claims to have in her possession more than 10,000 pages which constitute the police investigation and the file of the Crown against Richard Robert Mantha.

Kim Arial adds that the overlapping information contained in the documents, the general disorganization of the thousands of pages, combined with technological malfunctions led to this request for additional time.

This new delay is very disappointing, as we are waiting for the opening of this trial since August.

A quote from Judith Shrier, judge, Provincial Court of Alberta

While prosecutor Dominique Mathurin emphasizes having received the same volume of files, However, she claims to have managed to prepare for Monday's trial, despite the difficulties linked to the language barrier.

Originally from Quebec, Richard Robert Mantha exercised his right to be judged in French. This is a relatively rare case in Alberta, where only 2% of residents have French as their mother tongue (New window), according to the provincial government.

The defense told the judge it wants to separate the trials of the seven alleged victims because it will likely have a different strategy for each case. This is particularly the case when it comes to deciding whether Richard Robert Mantha testifies in his own defense.

Au In recent months, one of the accused's alleged victims has died. The Crown will, however, pursue charges related to this complainant.

With information from Laurence Taschereau and Meghan Grant

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