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Calgary teacher on trial for alleged sex assault wants charges tossed due to delays

A former Calgary high school teacher who is on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student has asked the court to toss his charges due to delays in the case. 

Jason Selby, a former teacher at Western Canada High School, is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.

“I have instructions [from Mr. Selby] given the nature of the delays to bring a Jordan application,” defence lawyer Alain Hepner told Justice Sean Dunnigan on Monday. 

“We’re getting close to twice the Jordan deadline.”

Hepner and co-counsel Jared Craig filed what’s known as a Jordan application — named after a Supreme Court decision that puts hard timelines on what is considered an unreasonable delay for matters to get from charge to trial conclusion.

In provincial court, cases must be wrapped-up within 18 months.

Delays beyond those time frames are “presumptively unreasonable” and violate an accused’s Charter right to be tried within a reasonable time.

New defence witness

Selby was charged in July 2021. It took more than two years for the trial to begin in August 2023.

But following testimony from the complainant, the trial was adjourned.

The delay came for two reasons: the alleged victim wasn’t available due to her school schedule and a new defence witness came forward mid-trial.

It was set to continue in June but the alleged victim is not available so a new date has been set in July for her cross-examination and so the court can hear from the new witness. 

Before that happens, Justice Dunnigan will hear arguments on the Jordan application to determine if he will stay Selby’s charges. That hearing is set to take place in April. 

In calculating the delay, Dunnigan will have to determine which adjournments are attributable to the court and Crown and which fall to the defence. 

Court heard that Selby was 33 years old when he began a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old former student.

‘No power imbalance’: defence

A publication ban protects the young woman’s identity. CBC News is calling her Amy.

Amy testified that she and Selby had sex a couple weeks after she graduated in June 2018. 

The initial contact and text messaging began when she was still a student.

The age of consent in Canada is 16 years old unless one of the parties is in a position of trust or authority over the other. 

On several occasions, Selby told her she had to keep their relationship a secret, Amy said.

Amy told the court she reported her former teacher to police in 2021 after she came to believe Selby had a sexual relationship with another teen and by then realized how young she was when their own relationship began.

Hepner previously indicated Selby’s defence will be to “demonstrate that the relationship between the parties was not exploitative and that there existed no power imbalance in favour of the accused.”

Selby is no longer teaching. 

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