Ashton case delayed

new second trial date remains to be fixed for a former Vernon teacher charged with allegedly having a sexual relationship with a former student.

A new second trial date remains to be fixed for a former Vernon teacher charged with allegedly having a sexual relationship with a former student.

The matter involving Deborah Louise Ashton, 46, was put over until Aug. 15 in Vernon Supreme Court Monday.

Ashton’s new lawyer, Terry La Liberté of Vancouver, requested the adjournment.

“I’m just getting involved in the case and getting up to speed,” said La Liberté, who has taken over from Abbotsford lawyer G. Jack Harris.

“I’ve just been retained and I know very little about the case.”

Neither La Liberté nor Crown counsel Neil Flanagan of Kamloops appeared in person for Monday’s proceedings. The matter was conducted in court via conference call.

Ashton pleaded not guilty in February to counts of sexual assault, sexual interference of a person under 14 and invitation to sexual touching under 14 in regards to an alleged relationship with a former student at a Vernon elementary school between September 2002 and January 2004.

A mistrial was declared following a two-week trial in February when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict after 13 hours of deliberations over two days.

In April, Flanagan announced he would be seeking to re-try Ashton on the charges.

Last month, Harris asked for the matter to be put over until Monday to either fix a date for a new trial or to consider a potential change of venue application.

Asked if he would be applying for a change of venue application, La Liberté said he only just started reading the transcripts of the first trial.

“I have to look at this from square one,” he said.

Flanagan insisted in May that he wanted matters to proceed on Monday.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Flanagan was resigned to the adjournment with a new lawyer now on the case.

“He called me Friday saying he was not ready to do anything, and, yes, I would like to move this along,” said Flanagan.

“Hopefully we can move forward in August.”