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Defence targets harassment charge

 Aleksandr Plehanov - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Aleksandr Plehanov
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Conditions of former Coquitlam substitute teacher Aleksandr Plehanov's release on bail in March 2010 did not specifically say he was to stay away from the alleged victims' residences, according to defence lawyer Lisa Helps.

Helps was cross-examining Coquitlam RCMP Const. Robin Sedgman, the officer handling Plehanov's release after he was arrested March 18, 2010 for sex crimes against children, during the second day of his trial at Port Coquitlam Provincial court on Wednesday.

"The conditions when he was released did not have a no go to the children's residences?" Helps asked. Sedgman replied that she believed there was a general no contact order with regards to the alleged victims but, after reviewing the March 18 bail document, she acknowledged there was no specific reference to the children's residences.

A second release document, this one dated March 25, 2010, also did not make specific reference to the children's homes, Sedgman testified.

Plehanov is facing charges of sexual assault and sexual interference involving girls who were aged seven and eight at the time.

He is also charged with criminal harassment in connection with alleged incidents that took place in early June 2010. At the time the neighbour of an alleged victim called police and reported she had seen Plehanov near the family's home, according to Sedgman's testimony.

Wednesday, the court also heard from the first of the young girls who will be testifying.

Before she was brought in to the court room the defence asked that her parents be excluded from the gallery, saying their presence could affect the girl's testimony.

"It is my position that a lot of this is parent driven," Helps said. Much of her questioning so far has touched on whether the alleged victims used "sexually assaulted" or "inappropriately touched" to describe the incidents and how much information was shared with other alleged victims and their parents.

Judge David St. Pierre allowed the girl's father in; her mother was present later after both lawyers agreed she was no longer needed to testify.

When the girl took the stand Crown counsel Wendy Van Tongeren Harvey asked her why she had given a statement to police in March 2010.

"Because Mr. P sexually assaulted me," the girl said. She testified that "sexually" meant "inappropriately" and that "assault" meant that, "he did something I didn't like."

The rest of her testimony Wednesday was part of a voir dire and cannot be published.

The trial continues.

 

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