RNC officer's sexual assault trial set to begin this week
On Monday, court staff dealt with those summoned for jury duty for the trial of RNC Const. Doug Snelgrove who had applied on paper in advance for an exemption. On Tuesday, they’ll deal with those making exemption requests in person.
The jury selection process for Snelgrove’s sexual assault trial got underway Monday morning, marking only the second jury trial to take place in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March. It’s the first jury trial in Newfoundland and Labrador amid the pandemic, and the province’s Supreme Court has made significant adaptations in order to abide by current public-health guidelines.
As The Telegram reported on Saturday, the trial will take place not in the courthouse but at the former School for the Deaf in St. John’s, where the jury selection process and subsequent trial can happen with participants being socially distant. Between 150 and 200 potential jurors are expected to attend Tuesday morning and they will be required to wear masks, sanitize their hands and respond to a COVID-19 screening questionnaire before entering the building and taking their places in seats placed six feet apart.
An off-site courtroom has been established in the school, with members of the media and spectators — to a maximum of 100 people — set to take the proceedings in from the school gym, connected to the courtroom via video.
Snelgrove’s trial will begin once 12 jurors and two alternates are selected. The trial, which had been scheduled for the end of March but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to take 10 days.
This is Snelgrove’s second time on trial for sexually assaulting a woman in St. John’s in December 2014 while he was on duty. He was originally acquitted, but the Supreme Court of Canada later ordered a new trial after appeals.
Snelgrove has been suspended from the RNC without pay since police learned of the sexual assault allegation.