Regan Prosecution Will Not Proceed
The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service will not proceed with the remaining charges of indecent assault against Gerald A. Regan. Martin Herschorn, director of Public Prosecutions, made the announcement today, April 17, at a news conference.
"After an exhaustive review and consultation, we've decided that it's not in the public interest to proceed," said Mr. Herschorn. "One consideration that weighed heavily was the probability that Mr. Regan would not receive a jail sentence if found guilty. This and the probability of a long and expensive trial were significant in leading to our decision."
Mr. Regan was facing eight charges of indecent assault involving eight women and dating back more than 24 years. In December 1998, he was acquitted of one charge of rape, two charges of attempted rape, three charges of indecent assault and two charges of unlawful confinement. These charges involved three women and dated back to 1956.
The current charges of indecent assault were stayed by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in April 1998 before Mr. Regan stood trial on the other charges. The stayed charges were reinstated by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 1999. Mr. Regan later appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and on Feb. 14 in a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld the reinstated charges, giving the Public Prosecution Service the ability to proceed with a prosecution.
The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, like most other prosecution services worldwide, uses a two-step test when deciding whether to go ahead with a prosecution. The case is first assessed on whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction. If not, the prosecution is stopped. If there is a realistic prospect of conviction, the Crown goes on to consider 15 different public interest factors. The prosecution moves forward only if it is in the public interest to do so.
"Although we were heartened by the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, public interest considerations weighed heavily in favor of stopping the prosecution," said Adrian Reid, chief Crown attorney, Halifax Region, and lead prosecutor on this case.
In addition to the likely outcome in the event of a guilty verdict and the length and expense of the trial, Mr. Reid cited three other reasons for deciding to not proceed.
First, the staleness of the alleged offences: they're more than 24 years old and the case itself is in its tenth year.
Second, the wishes of the complainants: before the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, two complainants had indicated that they no longer wished to proceed. Following the Supreme Court decision, two more complainants indicated they did not wish to proceed. Of the remaining six complainants, the majority were willing to proceed but were content to leave the decision to the Crown.
Finally, the original motivation of most of the complainants: to support the women who had allegedly been more seriously victimized. Once the current charges were stayed this was no longer possible.
Mr. Herschorn said the decision not to proceed in this case should not discourage anyone who has been sexually assaulted from reporting it to police.
"Every case is assessed individually and decisions are made based on the facts of the case," explained Mr. Herschorn. "The Public Prosecution Service takes the offence of sexual assault very seriously. I urge any person who is sexually assaulted to report the incident to the police immediately. If the investigation results in criminal charges, the Public Prosecution Service will approach the case with the same fairness, professionalism and integrity as any other case."
FOR BROADCAST USE:
The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service will not proceed with the charges of indecent assault that remain against Gerald A. Regan.
Martin Herschorn, director of Public Prosecutions, made the announcement today, April 17th, at a news conference.
Mr. Herschorn says that the probability that Mr. Regan would not receive a jail sentence if found guilty of these charges and that the trial would be long and expensive were important considerations.
njm April 17, 2002 10:31 A.M.