I’m here today to provide you with an update on what’s going on with respect to sexual assault cases in the province in October. In other words, how is COVID-19 pandemic effecting these types of cases, for out of custody, that’s people who are not languishing in jail but were granted bail, in other words, they are in society waiting for their trial or guilty plea. Well this is a very interesting question, so first of all, as you may be aware, from March until July 6th, both in the lower court , our Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, trials were not taken place, and for out of custody cases, guilty pleas were not taking place either, so there’s great concern about a backlog which we are now trying to address, because we’ve opened up cases, opened up courtrooms I should say, renovating them to have trials in person and the Ministry continues to renovate the courtrooms slowly but surely in a safe way. So how is this effecting these cases?  Well what our office has been finding is on the most minor of sexual assault charges, and you know, when I say minor, any sexual assault, is serious, but I am talking a fleeting touching, a bar incident, a grab a breast, buttocks, those are on the lesser end of the scale.  The Crown Attorney is probably more apt to offer a reasonable resolution now to you know first of all, avoid a jail term, second of all, if there’s a choice between, even a criminal record, versus a conditional discharge, we’re getting some of those resolutions right now, on very minor cases, this is not happening for any cases beyond that, the crown’s not interested in offering people deals for example who are charged with rape. Those cases are prioritized in their system and the person is going to have to plead guilty for the normal range of sentence or proceed to trial.  So the good news is you’re able, 1), to get your trial date set now, if you presume your innocence, claiming you’re innocent, and b) if you are pleading guilty, there may be some lenience at lower end cases, but not for other cases, there’s going to be the normal range of sentence, anything beyond the low end cases, so that’s an update about what’s going on for out of custody sexual assault cases in our Ontario criminal court system.

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