It wasn’t the question, it was who they were asking.
Ultimately, the B.C. Court of Appeal was the wrong avenue to request information regarding the Alternative Measures program completed by Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov following a sexual assault charge, according to a ruling released Thursday.
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In March 2019, Vagramov faced one charge of sexual assault stemming from an incident alleged to have occurred in 2015.
The charge was stayed later that year following Vagramov’s completion of the Alternative Measures program.
Shortly afterward, several media organizations filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court asking to see documents relating to:
- Vagramov’s eligibility for the alternative program
- The measures required of Vagramov.
- Records relating to the completion of those measures.
In the spring of 2021, Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson dismissed the application.
Disclosing those documents could create potential for manipulation and lead to a “chilling effect on the cooperation of complainants and accused persons,” according to Hinkson’s ruling.
The ruling was supported by a submission from B.C. Correction which argued that Vagramov’s personal information becoming public could lead to other accused individuals becoming less forthcoming.
Following Hinkson’s ruling, CBC, CTV and Global News took their request to the Court of Appeal.
The case rested on whether the Court of Appeals had the jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The crux of the matter was whether the matter is civil in nature, in which case the court would have jurisdiction.
Ultimately, the court opted to quash the appeal. As the ruling was made by a criminal judge on an application connected to a Criminal Code provision, the matter was criminal in nature, according to a ruling written by Justice S. David Frankel and Justice Peter Willcock, and agreed to by Justice Susan Griffin.
A note about the alternative measures program
Alternative Measures are used in cases when the accused accepts some responsibility for the act. The approach can’t be used if the accused chooses to settle the matter in court or if they deny: “participation or involvement in the commission of the offence.”
The alternative approach also could not be used if the accused had a history of violence or of sexual offences.
The victim must also be consulted and have their views considered. Confessions are not admissible as evidence in future civil or criminal proceedings.