National Post

Tuesday, March 02, 1999

Convicted man to demand hearing from high court
New information in 'no means no' case, lawyer says

Shawn Ohler
National Post, with files from The Canadian Press

Steve Simon, The Edmonton Journal / Brian Beresh, a high-profile Edmonton lawyer, says he has information that wasn't available in the original trial of Steve Ewanchuk.

A high-profile lawyer for Steve Ewanchuk, the Edmonton man at the centre of the no-means-no sexual-assault case, will demand a hearing from the Supreme Court of Canada to consider new information.

"There is some evidence which the Supreme Court did not have before it which might affect the decision as to whether or not this man should be allowed the benefit of a trial," lawyer Brian Beresh said yesterday.

Mr. Beresh, perhaps Edmonton's most celebrated defence lawyer and a long-time critic of civil-rights abuses, said the new information wasn't available during Ewanchuk's original trial. He refused to elaborate on the nature of the information.

Last week, the Supreme Court convicted Ewanchuk on a charge of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old woman during a job interview in 1994.

The high court used a rarely invoked power to overturn acquittals from both an Alberta trial court and the Alberta Court of Appeal. The case was returned to Alberta for sentencing.

Mr. Beresh said it was a "very unusual move" for the Supreme Court to convict his client.

"In almost all instances where the law is clarified the accused is allowed his day in court subject to the clarified law," he said.

He said he will promptly start the legal processes required to seek a new hearing.

Ewanchuk, who is not yet in custody and will be summoned before Alberta's Court of Queen's bench for sentencing, said he is hoping to have another chance to offer his side of the story.

"There are too many facts missing in this story," Ewanchuk said.

Ewanchuk was convicted of rape three times in the early 1970s and convicted of sexual assault in 1989. He still lives in Edmonton and runs his woodworking business there.

At Ewanchuk's 1995 trial, the teen victim testified she entered Ewanchuk's trailer in the parking lot of an Edmonton shopping mall to inquire about a job in his shop.

She said she started to feel afraid when Ewanchuk, who was about twice her size, closed the door behind them. Talk about the job gradually became more personal and the two ended up giving each other massages. The woman told him to stop when his hand neared her breast. She said no at least two other times as his advances continued.

Mr. Beresh is not unfamiliar with high-profile cases. His current clients include Larry Fisher, the 49-year-old charged with a murder for which David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted, and Lisa Neve, the 26-year-old former prostitute declared a dangerous offender by an Edmonton court and locked up indefinitely.

Related Sites

R. v. Ewanchuk
The Supreme Court decision handed down in the "no means no" sexual assault case.

Jurist Canada
The leading judicial website.