Trial of BC Indigenous leader Ed John comes to an abrupt end as Crown stays sex charges

The British Columbia Prosecution Service says a stay of proceedings has been ordered in the sexual assault trial of former provincial minister and Indigenous leader Edward John, 73.

The decision to end the case in British Columbia Supreme Court in Prince George follows the plaintiff’s cross-examination on four counts of sex without consent dating back to 1974.

After a morning of cross-examination, the alleged victim, visibly upset, asked for an early break, granted by Terence Schultes, after breaking down in tears under questioning by John’s defense attorney, Tony Paisana.

Paisana had said there were inconsistencies between the statements she provided to authorities about the alleged assaults, which allegedly occurred when John was executive director of the Doh Day De Claa Friendship Centre, where his accuser had a job as a ‘summer.

The woman replied that the discrepancies were due to the stress she was under and that the memories became clearer the more she talked about it.

“I didn’t lie on purpose,” she said.

The woman expressed her frustration with Paisana’s questioning, prompting Schultes to intervene in an attempt to calm her down.

The trial is taking place this week at the Prince George courthouse. (Andrew Kurjata / Radio Canada)

Almost an hour into the proceedings on Tuesday morning, she said, “I’m sorry, I need a break.”

Prosecutor Michael Klein met the woman in an interrogation room and when Klein returned to the courtroom about an hour later, he told Schultes that the case would not proceed against John, who pleaded not guilty.

The British Columbia Prosecution Service said in a statement that the charges were stayed because the charge assessment standard requiring a substantial likelihood of conviction was no longer met.

John, a lawyer and hereditary chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation, was appointed to the British Columbia cabinet and served as Minister of Children’s Affairs in the NDP government between November 2000 and June 2001.

In a brief statement outside the courthouse, Paisana said John was “relieved to have his name cleared and relieved to be able to carry on for the rest of his life.” Paisana said John regretted missing the papal visit this week because of the trial.