Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William has been charged with one count of sexual interference with a person under the age of 16. Last Friday the chief was at Tl’etinqox First Nation where he and other leaders thanked the Mexican firefighters for their efforts on the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire. Angie Mindus photo

UPDATE: B.C. First Nations chief denies sexual interference against a minor charges

Elected Chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Roger William made first court appearance Wednesday

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William has been charged with one count of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16.

The allegation, which came to light Wednesday in a news release issued by the B.C. Prosecution Service (BCPS), was addressed during a first court appearance on the matter Wednesday, Aug. 30 in Williams Lake Provincial Court.

When reached by the Tribune, William said “it has not been easy,” but that only his lawyer could speak to the media about the charge.

Long-time lawyer for the Chief and the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, David Rosenberg, said William is not guilty.

“I can say that Roger William will vigorously defend against the charge as he is innocent,” he said.

The offence is alleged to have occurred on or about May 12, 2107 in Williams Lake, stated the BCPS.

Vancouver lawyer Brock Martland who approved the charge against William was appointed Special Prosecutor for the case on Aug. 28, shortly after a report to Crown Counsel relating to the charge was received by the BCPS, stated the release.

“The appointment of a special prosecutor is intended to avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice,” the BCPS media statement noted. “He was given a mandate to provide legal advice to the RCMP investigators as may be necessary, conduct any related charge assessment and assume conduct of the prosecution if charges were approved.”

William was a just a young man when the precedent-setting William Rights and Title case, which bears his name, was launched more than 25 years ago.

At that time elders in the community recognized him as a leader, which he has been for most of his life.

The decision in 2014, which recognized Aboriginal rights and title, has since had far-reaching effects on First Nations’ territorial rights across the country.

Rosenberg said the personal case William faces now could take many months or even years to resolve.

It takes a lifetime to build a “great” reputation like Chief Roger William has and all it takes is one allegation to destroy it, Rosenberg said.

For the last 25 years, Rosenberg has been the lead counsel for the Tsilhqot’in rights and title case.

“I took the title case to the Supreme Court of Canada and argued it there so I was the lawyer for the Tsilhqot’in Nation in that matter,” Rosenberg said.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, sexual interference is described as a every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years.

William’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Williams Lake Provincial Court.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Trail military exercises provide crucial training

Exercise Sapper Crucible: ‘The nuts and bolts of what a soldier is’

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

Thrums, Riondel, and Slocan, revisited

Place Names: Scottish author delighted by Thrums name origin

Last stand for Silver City summer

Fall officially arrives in Trail at 6:54 p.m. on Saturday

Tell the Times

Web Poll: Will you be attending a candidates forum in the Trail area?

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read