No decision on possible second trial

No decision has been made as to whether a former Vernon teacher and vice-principal will face a second trial for an alleged sexual relationship with a former student.

Deborah Louise Ashton, 46, pleaded not guilty in B.C. Supreme Court in Vernon on Feb. 7 to charges 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.

After 11 days of evidence and testimony, and 13 hours of deliberation over two days, the eight-woman, four-man jury told Judge S. James Shabbits they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Shabbits declared a mistrial on Feb. 23.

“The matter has been put over until April 11, and, between now and then, a decision will be made about whether there will be a retrial,” said Neil Flanagan, Crown prosecutor in the first trial. “In every criminal case, a prosecutor is constantly assessing and re-assessing the viability of the case, and that’s the process I’ll be going through between now and April 11.

“I have not made a decision.”

Neither Ashton or her lawyer, G. Jack Harris, have commented on the case.

In the first trial, six witnesses testified for the Crown, and 19 witnesses gave testimony for the defence.