Man accused in Lethbridge sex assault trial enters guilty pleas

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge court hears agreed statement of facts in sexual assault case'
Lethbridge court hears agreed statement of facts in sexual assault case
A Lethbridge man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl has pleaded guilty instead of continuing with his trial. Police arrested Gary Lippa following a tip they received in September 2017. Quinn Campbell has the details – Feb 20, 2020

Gary Lippa re-elected to have his trial before a judge alone, just one day after a jury had been selected.

The jury wasn’t expected in the courtroom until Wednesday afternoon in order to give the lawyers time to argue the admissibility of some evidence. Instead, Lippa had a change of heart and pleaded guilty to three of his six charges.

Lippa has now pleaded guilty to making, distributing or publishing child pornography, child luring and sexual assault.

In an agreed statement of facts read before a Lethbridge courtroom on Thursday, it was heard that Lippa provided a 13-year-old girl with a cellphone to establish communication.

Court also heard that Lippa described graphic sexual contact, asked for sexual photos and admitted to sexual intercourse with the victim.

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Police were tipped off in September 2017 by the victim’s parents that Lippa was involved in sexualized online chats with their daughter.

Click to play video: 'Man accused in Lethbridge sex assault trial enters guilty plea'
Man accused in Lethbridge sex assault trial enters guilty plea

The court also heard that while the girl was staying with caregivers in Lethbridge, Lippa deceptively enticed her to meet in person before engaging in sexual activity with her.

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Once sentencing is complete for the charges he has pleaded guilty to, the remaining three charges — possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and invitation to sexual touching — will be withdrawn.

Carolyn Eyre, a Crown prosecutor on the case, said jail time is expected.

“Given that two of the offences call for a mandatory minimum sentence of one year each, the Crown would be asking that those be served consecutively,” Eyre said.

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“So Mr. Lippa would be looking at a sentence of at least two years in the penitentiary in the Crown’s submission.”

A sentencing date will be set on March 26.

Lippa also pleaded guilty in provincial court to charges of breaching recognizance, which included possessing an electronic device and being in a place children could be present.

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