Canada Retrial of former Esgenoôpetitj First Nation chief on 4 sex charges underway in Burton
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The retrial of former Esgenoôpetitj First Nation chief Wilbur Dedam on four sex crimes dating back to the 1970s is underway in Burton Court of Queen's Bench.
Dedam, 67, is accused of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 14, sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, sexual intercourse without consent and illicit sexual relations.
All of the charges involve the same alleged victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.
In 2016, Dedam was sentenced to nine years in prison after a jury found him guilty of six sex-related offences against three girls in the community between 1977 and 1985.
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But in August 2018, New Brunswick's Court of Appeal set aside the convictions and ordered a new trial, ruling Dedam had been improperly excluded from the courtroom during his first trial in Miramichi, in violation of his charter rights.
'Come here, sit on my lap'
The alleged victim was back in the witness box Wednesday in the courtroom southeast of Fredericton. On Tuesday, she told the Court of Queen's Bench about her first memory of Dedam.
She was about six or seven years old and alone in a room with Dedam, as he strummed a guitar, next to a wood-fired oven, she said.
Dedam stopped playing and told her to, "Come here, sit on my lap," she testified.
While on his lap, he told her, "I'll wait for you."
"When you're six or seven, you don't think anything of it," she said.
Dedam served as chief of the community, formerly known as Burnt Church, on and off for about 30 years.
The jury of six women and six men was selected on Monday, along with another woman and man, who are alternates.
Justice William Grant is presiding.
The Crown prosecutors handling the case are Jean-Guy Savoie and Melanie MacAulay.
Dedam's defence lawyers are T.J. Burke of Fredericton and Michael Lacy of Toronto.
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