Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Accused can't question alleged victims

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MANITOBA prosecutors have won a rarely needed court order barring a man charged with sex-related and child pornography offences from personally challenging testimony given by his alleged victims at an upcoming hearing.

As a January preliminary inquiry looms for Darrell Ackman, 43, senior Crown attorney Jennifer Mann went to court Wednesday and was granted an order requiring the state to appoint a lawyer for the purpose of cross-examining select witnesses in his widely publicized case.

The Crown brought the application out of concern Ackman -- who has already parted ways with one lawyer -- won't have counsel and would be in a position to directly question the several young women and teen girls involved in his case when they testify.

Ackman was arrested last year for allegedly recruiting teen runaways for porn videos.

He's also facing several child prostitution-related charges.

Mann said the "exploitive" relationship between Ackman and the victims creates a situation where there's "real concern" they wouldn't provide a "full and candid account" to the court when testifying. "Not having legal counsel... quite frankly, would be a recipe for disaster," Mann told provincial court Judge Anne Krahn.

Krahn's order allows Legal Aid to appoint a lawyer to challenge the testimony of eight witnesses in the case at the preliminary hearing.

Ackman is currently represented by lawyer Zilla Jones, so the order could be moot.

But Mann pursued it anyway in the event the lawyer-client relationship doesn't last.

Ackman has signalled in the past he wanted to represent himself and did so at a May bail hearing where he was denied another shot at pretrial freedom.

Ackman was rearrested that month after several witnesses contacted police stating he was putting up posters near Grant Park High School and the U of W Collegiate recruiting attractive people for a movie about his life.

He denies he breached his bail and plans to apply to the Court of Queen's Bench later this month for a review.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @heyjturner

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2013 A6

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