Delay, new charges in former Vernon teacher trial

Deborah Louise Ashton's second trial is slated to begin March 5 in Vernon Supreme Court with two new counts added to the indictment

More time to prepare, more charges to answer to.

The second trial of former Vernon teacher Deborah Louise Ashton, 47, accused of having a sexual relationship with a former student, was slated to begin in Vernon Supreme Court Monday.

Ashton is again facing charges of sexual assault, sexual interference of a person under 14 and invitation to sexual touching in connection to an alleged relationship with a former student at a Vernon elementary school between September 2002 and January 2004.

She was arrested in June 2008, and, at her first trial, pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

However, on Thursday, Crown counsel Neil Flanagan said the second trial has been postponed a month, and that a new indictment has been filed that includes the three original charges, plus two new counts of sexual exploitation.

“The trial will now begin March 5. The defence made an application for an adjournment, saying they needed more time to prepare for the case, and the Crown had no objection,” said Flanagan, who would not elaborate on the new charges, stating that he would speak to the charges in court.

Ashton’s lawyer, Terry La Liberte, was not available to comment on the adjournment or the new charges on Friday.

The second trial will begin March 5 in Vernon Supreme Court and is scheduled to run until March 16 (10 court days) if needed.

The matter will be heard before Supreme Court judge alone.

Ashton’s first trial, held before judge and jury over eight court days in Vernon in February 2011, ended with a hung jury.

Ashton is also facing two perjury charges stemming from the original trial, but that matter is being dealt with in provincial court.