Defence lawyer argues for 7 separate sexual assault trials for man accused in Calgary-area case

Click to play video: '‘It’s disappointing’: Calgary trial for accused rapist Richard Mantha delayed'
‘It’s disappointing’: Calgary trial for accused rapist Richard Mantha delayed
WATCH ABOVE: The French trial for an accused serial rapist was delayed Monday. The defense asked for more time to submit an application to have all seven of Richard Mantha's alleged victims heard as separate trials. Sarah Offin explains – Jan 15, 2024

Richard Mantha, a 59-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, was back in court in Calgary on Wednesday morning as a judge heard arguments for and against a severance application ahead of a French-language trial.

Seven women have come forward as part of a massive police investigation launched last spring, accusing Mantha of kidnapping, drugging and sexually assaulting them between 2019 and February of 2023.

While the assaults allegedly occurred at different times, Crown prosecutor Dominique Mathurin argued the case has been treated by police as one investigation from the start.

Defence lawyer Kim Arial is asking each of the cases to be tried separately. She argued on the grounds of propensity: that evidence admissible in one case should not be considered in determining the accused’s character or likelihood to commit a crime in the next.

The Crown, meanwhile, continues to argue for a joint trial. Mathurin pointed to similarities between the seven accounts, and the “cumulative effect” of them. Details of those similarities are currently under a publication ban.

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Mathurin said separating the trial would cause not only investigators, but also alleged victims, to testify in court three to six times.

Arial also said Mantha intends to testify in his own defence in some, but not all, of the cases.

A decision on the application is expected on Friday.

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