Judge stays sexual assault charges after Crown takes too long to prosecute

Sex charges stayed for delay

A judge has stayed four sexual assault charges laid against a Kamloops man because prosecutors took too long to bring him to trial.

Jonathan Tait Steinkampf was charged in April of 2021 with one count of sexual assault spanning a two-year date range.

Steinkampf was supposed to have had his day in court last year, but five weeks before his trial prosecutors amended the indictment to include four counts of sexual assault spanning a three-year date range. The new allegations increased Steinkampf’s legal jeopardy.

Steinkampf’s lawyer refused to proceed to the scheduled trial dates on the amended charges — forcing the Crown to lay new charges entirely — and filed a Charter challenge alleging his right to be tried within a reasonable time had been breached.

Kamloops provincial court Judge Lorianna Bennett sided with Steinkampf and stayed the charges, ruling the new trial dates were outside the range laid out by the Supreme Court of Canada in a landmark case on delay in criminal prosecutions.

Bennett called the case “an anomaly.”

“While I acknowledge that any delay was unintended, the reality is that Crown made a tactical decision to amend the charges in a matter that could, and did, have a significant impact on the judicial process,” she said.

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