Friday, November 28, 2003

Jacques Leduc, canon lawyer for the diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, to argue for appeal in Project Truth case in front of Supreme Court of Canada

Jacques Leduc, facing retrial on charges linked to a Cornwall, sex scandal, will get to argue an application for appeal before Canada's highest court.

The Supreme Court of Canada Thursday granted Leduc a rare oral hearing in the matter of an Ontario ruling last summer that overturned a lower courts stay on charges against him and set aside nearly $300,000 awarded to him in damages.

Leduc was charged in 1998 with eight counts of sexual exploitation involving three teenaged boys after he was implicated by Project Truth, a lengthy provincial police probe into sex allegations against prominent people in the Cornwall area.

The case against him was stayed in March 2001 after defence lawyers convinced Superior Court Justice James Chadwick that the Crown had deliberately withheld evidence.

However, Ontario's Court of Appeal overturned that ruling in July, calling it so clearly wrong that it does amount to an injustice.

In its 37-page unanimous decision, the court found no grounds for the stay, saying Crown prosecutor Shelley Hallet had made an honest mistake when she failed to disclose the fact former Cornwall police officer Perry Dunlop, a crusader in the fight to uncover a purported pedophile ring in the area, had been in contact with one of Leduc's alleged victims.

Leduc's defence team, led by prominent criminal lawyer Marlys Edwardh, contends there are still questions about the Crowns actions in the case.

Edwardh, who has successfully fought the wrongful convictions of Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin and Steven Truscott, called Thursdays judgment a welcome development in a lengthy ordeal.

Its very rare but in this unusual case, where what has gone on is the same as a court of appeal reversing an acquittal, the rules of the Supreme Court  require the court to give an opportunity to make oral arguments in this very unique circumstance, she said.

The hearing date has been set for January 12, 2004.