Trial Date to Be Set for Ralph Rowe

CNW [Canada]
July 11, 2006

THUNDER BAY, ON, July 11 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy and Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler are pleased with last Friday's decision to continue court processes in the current criminal case against Ralph Rowe - a former pilot and missionary school master charged with various counts of assault.

"The decision is definitely a sense of relief for those affected not only across NAN territory, but the entire province of Ontario," said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. "Now it's our job to move forward to prepare for the trial by gaining support for the victims."

Fiddler's comments come after a July 7th official response from Superior Court Justice E.W. Stach stating the following in a written report regarding a defense charter motion submitted by Rowe in May: "In short there is simply no support on these grounds for Mr. Rowe's claim for a stay of the current proceedings. To hold otherwise would effectively require young victims of sexual abuse to speak up immediately or never be heard."

Despite Rowe's charter motion for a stay of proceedings due to court delays and abuse of process, court proceedings on this case will resume August 2006 to set a date for trial.

In addition to serving 3 years of a six year sentence in 1994 for indecent and sexual assaults, Rowe is currently charged with an additional 38 counts of indecent assaults and 34 counts of sexual assault against a total of 28 male victims in nine different settings, most of them northern First Nations, alleged to have taken place between June 29, 1971 and May 1, 1986 (a 16-year span).

"This isn't just about Ralph Rowe, but about an assault on our people by the church," said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "By employing Ralph Rowe, the church did not fulfil its obligation to ensure the safety of its patrons - the church should be a safe place."

Rowe worked in at least 18 NAN First Nation communities between 1971 and 1986. He currently lives in Surrey, BC.


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