Crown enters stay of proceedings against Manitoba doctor accused of sexual assault

The Crown has entered a stay of proceedings for some of the charges against a Manitoba doctor accused of sexual assault.

Dr. Arcel Bissonnette was back in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench on Wednesday, and sat silently in the gallery as the Crown told the court it would not be proceeding with its prosecution.

“The Crown’s obligation to assess reasonable likelihood of conviction is ongoing throughout a prosecution,” Crown attorney Nadine Vasas told Justice Anne Turner.

Bissonnette, who was formerly working as a doctor at a Ste-Anne hospital and medical clinic, was charged with six counts of sexual assault in November 2020.

Then in October 2021, Sainte-Anne Police charged the doctor with 16 more counts of sexual assault.

However, during the trial, Bissonnette’s defence lawyers raised what they called ‘significant concerns’ with the integrity of the police investigation.

Defence Counsel Lisa LaBossiere previously told the court a year of notes from the lead investigator in the case are missing, and said it does not appear they will ever be recovered.

“That is key evidence. I don’t need to tell the court how important notebooks are,” LaBossiere told the court during the first day of the trial on Jan. 16.

Following nearly a week of delays and adjournments, Defence Counsel Martin Minuk told the court the defence had received new disclosure from police, including what he called a ‘significant piece.’

After reviewing some of the late disclosure of evidence, Vasas said Wednesday that the Crown has ‘reassessed’ the six counts of sexual assault before the court.

“Based on that assessment, the Crown is entering a stay of proceedings at this time,” Vasas said.

Bissonnette’s defence lawyers declined to comment.

The remaining 16 charges of sexual assault against Bissonnette have yet to go to trial. The remaining charges have not been proven in court, and he is considered innocent until proven guilty.

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