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

VIDEO: Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP files ‘historic appeal’ to save proposed legislation

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson filed a “historic appeal” on Thursday to have… Continue reading

Chemainus Secondary’s Janet Ruest receives excellence award from Governor General

Chemainus Secondary School teacher Janet Ruest was recognized in Ottawa on Wednesday.

VIU nursing students conduct survey on Ladysmith early years programming

Fourth year nursing students at Vancouver Island University have teamed up with… Continue reading

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP seeks secret ballot to save abandoned vessels bill

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson is seeking a secret ballot to save her private member’s bill.

Founder Smith’s vision will live on through the Chemainus Theatre Festival

Death of Ken Smith brings much reflection from a grateful community

UPDATE: More searchers out looking for missing senior near Nanaimo

Search and rescue personnel from all over the Island are looking for 73-year-old Faye Hanson

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

15 arrested as Duncan police raid yields drugs, stolen property

Arrests made, drugs and stolen property seized

B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

Federal government to have a new co-operative housing funding model in place by 2020

Mounties dismantle counterfeiters ring with raid in Maple Bay Thursday

Counterfeiting paraphernalia found along with firearms, stolen property as police swept in Nov. 23

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Hammy has been freed of his threads, a purple antler remains

The iconic Prince Rupert buck with a piece of hammock attached to his antlers was caught by COs

RCMP searching for missing Cowichan Bay boater, Daniel Borthwick

His Zodiac has been found but he has not, so far.

Most Read