Lawyers in court for Lethbridge football players accused in locker-room assault

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Four members of a Lethbridge high school football team charged with the sexual assault of a teammate earlier this month did not appear in person at their first court date on Wednesday.

Instead, they were represented by lawyers who requested a one-month adjournment while they await disclosure, a package of documents related to the criminal case collected by prosecutors and police.

Police allege a 16-year-old boy was assaulted in the school's locker room after regular school hours on Oct. 3.

The accused, who between the ages of 16 and 17, have been charged with sexual assault with a weapon, assault with a weapon and forcible confinement.

Police served a search warrant at the school and seized a weapon, but have not said what it is.

The four teens were arrested and released from custody on conditions, which include not having contact with the complainant or attending the school.

Because of their ages, they cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The judge granted the adjournment, with the next scheduled appearance Nov. 22.

The Crown indicated it is to proceed by indictment, signalling the seriousness of the charges and sending the matter to the Court of King's Bench.

All football at the high school was initially suspended and has now been cancelled for the rest of the season by the Lethbridge School Division.

It said although the players and coaches have done everything asked of them, more needs to be done.

The Lethbridge division said more time is needed to evaluate and respond to the effect it has had on the school community and moving forward it requires a broader response beyond the football team.

It also said some members of the football team have been targeted for harassment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2023.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press