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No mistrial for former youth worker who had sex with teen in care, judge rules

A former youth worker who had sex with a teenage boy under her care in the 1990s will be sentenced after a judge refused to grant the defence application for a mistrial. 

Beverly Allard, 65, was found guilty of sexual exploitation following a trial in October. 

Court heard Allard was 31 years old when she began a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy who was under the care of Alberta’s Child and Family Services at William Roper Hull Homes in Calgary.

At the time, Allard was assigned as the teen’s case worker after his mother relinquished care of him.

The victim’s identity is protected by a publication ban. CBC News has referred to him as A.B.

Last month, defence lawyer Dale Knisely asked Court of King’s Bench Justice Lisa Silver to declare a mistrial.

Knisely argued there was too long a delay between investigation and charge. He submitted the police failed to preserve a videotaped statement from 1998, and he alleged the Crown failed in its duty to disclose because he wasn’t told of current charges faced by the victim.

When he testified at the trial, A.B. was facing charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Three days after he testified, A.B.’s charges were stayed by the Crown.

Right to fair trial

Although his prior convictions were disclosed to defence, Knisely argued he should have been told about A.B.’s active charge. 

Knisely argued the non-disclosure “impaired Ms. Allard’s right to make full answer and defence.”

The defence lawyer also questioned whether there was a deal offered in exchange for his testimony but prosecutor Melissa Bond provided the court with a letter from the chief Crown explaining that A.B.’s charges were stayed because the Crown had no reasonable likelihood of conviction.

On Tuesday, Silver found that although the charges should have been disclosed to defence sooner, the late disclosure “did not infringe her right to a fair trial.”

26-page handwritten statement

Many of the details of the relationship between Allard and A.B. come from a 26-page handwritten statement Allard provided to police in 1998, eight years after the two first had sex. 

At the time, Allard told a detective that A.B. was threatening her with violence and with disclosing their relationship to authorities. 

She told police that she knew what she’d done was wrong but she’d had enough and wanted to tell her story.

Allard also provided a two-hour videotaped statement, but more than two decades later, police were not able to find that video.

The judge said it was reasonable for police not to preserve the tape given the file was deemed closed.

Sentencing to proceed

In addition, said Silver, Allard’s written statement was comprehensive, written in the privacy of her own home and provided the opportunity for the accused to tell her own story in her own words and correct or add any relevant details.

The loss of that video statement “did not compromise defence or impact trial fairness,” said Silver.

The Edmonton police detective who took Allard’s statement referred the case to Calgary police. Charges weren’t laid because A.B. was not co-operative. The file sat dormant for 24 years.

In response to the defence’s issue of delay between the initial investigation and charges, Silver found there was a “lack of evidence of actual prejudice” and said that “nothing in the investigation undermined the integrity of the justice system.”

A sentencing hearing will now proceed next month. 

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