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June 2011 preliminary hearing set for accused in HIV case

Accused will have spent nearly 14 months in prison by next summer

Via video link from Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, Ontario, a 29-year-old poz Ottawa man accused of not disclosing his serostatus made an appearance in Ottawa court on Oct 15. A Dec 15 judicial pretrial date has been set. A four-week preliminary hearing has been set for June 6 to 30 next year.

In both Ottawa and Kitchener, the accused is charged for similar offences and both court cases are running concurrently. In Ottawa, he faces 26 charges: four counts of aggravated sexual assault, four counts attempt murder, five counts of sexual assault, eight counts of breaching probation and one count of possession of child pornography.

To date, the accused’s Ottawa charges stem from six complainants. Last month, Xtra obtained documents stating two new complainants have come forward. Charges have not been laid yet. Also, the Crown is mulling whether or not to use medical evidence in the trial, like comparing the accused’s HIV strain to the strains of complainants who have recently seroconverted.

The accused was transferred late last summer from Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre to Maplehurst. In both institutions, he is being held in protective custody. In a previous interview with Xtra, he said he preferred being detained at Maplehurst because of longer, more frequent outdoor time and increased contact with other inmates. He also said he feels safer because he is not recognized from the media coverage in Ottawa earlier this year.

In Kitchener, he faces three counts of aggravated sexual assault related to two complainants and two charges of breaching probation.

Two weeks ago, the accused finished a two-day pretrial and he was physically present for one of these days. Via email, his lawyer Scott Reid says a two-day preliminary hearing has been set for Nov 25 and 30.

A publication ban protects the identities of the accusers; Xtra has so far declined to publish the name of the accused.

A 24-year-old poz man is co-accused in the Kitchener case. Following a foursome with the Ottawa accused, he faces two counts of aggravated sexual assault for allegedly not disclosing his serostatus before having unprotected sex. Since May he has been under house arrest. His next court appearance is Oct 26. According to court dockets obtained by Xtra, the reason for this court appearance only says “to set a date.”

“‘To set a date’ is not defined in the documents,” a Kitchener court clerk said.

The accused was arrested May 6 this year. By the time he makes his next Ottawa appearance, he will have spent more than seven months behind bars. In contrast, he will have been imprisoned for nearly 14 months by the time his preliminary hearing is finished next summer.

Ottawa police set off nationwide debate after the accused’s photo was attached to an email sent out by the Police Liaison Committee with the phrase “sexual predator” attached to it.

After having his Ottawa bail yanked July in Superior Court, the accused is seeking to have another bail hearing.

“Karen,” a relative of the accused, told Xtra he needs two to three people to act as surety.

“I am looking into becoming a surety for [the accused] so that he can potentially get out of jail in December. No guarantees, but I can’t stand the thought of him being stuck in there until June,” says Karen.

Karen says the accused told her he has been mistreated by both fellow inmates and some of the guards. She relays one instance in which the accused confided in someone about being gay and he was outed. As a result, the accused had privileges (ie reading materials) taken away from him by prison guards, the accused told her.

But Karen says the accused is keeping his hopes up about getting bail before Christmas.

Until this month, the only medication the accused had been allowed was Seroquel for his anxiety. But Karen reports he is now on treatment for HIV.