A Saskatoon court has agreed to allow a man to change his plea to not guilty and stand trial after already pleading guilty to a dozen counts of s****l a*sault.
Cecil Wolfe, who calls himself a traditional healer, initially pleaded guilty to a dozen counts of s****l a*sault involving women from Saskatoon, the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and Loon Lake.
Wolfe signaled last January that he wanted to change his plea and a*sert his innocence. A Saskatoon court has now considered that request and agreed Tuesday to let him change his plea and plead innocence. He will next appear in court on September 25.
During previous proceedings, Wolfe signed a statement of facts saying he often asked women to visit him wearing a skirt, then asked them to remove their underwear before he began touching them inappropriately . Wolfe claimed that what he was doing was not s****l and that he was cutting out “bad meds.”
The a*saults allegedly took place between 2013 and 2021. The Saskatoon police s*x crimes unit first charged him in September 2021.
The statement of facts, which his defense lawyer and Crown prosecutors agreed with, said women sometimes did not question Wolfe, who is Indigenous, because he is an elder and because they believed he was a healer.
According to the Saskatoon court, the overturning of a guilty plea is based on the applicant successfully arguing that he was not properly informed, that he pleaded under duress or that he did not did not fully appreciate the consequences of his actions.
Wolfe speaks primarily Cree and at an earlier hearing the judge ruled that Wolfe may not have understood what he was agreeing to in the statement of facts.
Translators were brought before the court to ensure Wolfe’s understanding.
Before changing his plea, a joint proposal from the prosecution and defense suggested a sentence of nine and a half years.
– with files from Easton Hamm and Nathaniel Dove of PKBNEWS
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