January 21, 2020

Winnipeg
-16° C, Blowing snow

Full Forecast

City councillor Russ Wyatt's sex assault case in court next month

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/7/2018 (544 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who is accused of sexual assault, is scheduled to make his first court appearance next month.

Newly released documents list a Aug. 28 hearing in an administrative courtroom at the Law Courts.

Wyatt, 48, has been charged with sexually assaulting a Winnipeg woman on Jan. 13. He was taken into custody on July 10, shortly after police received lab results connected to the investigation.

He was released on a promise to appear in court. The conditions of his release stipulate he’s not to contact his alleged victim or be within 200 metres of her or places she’s known to frequent.

In addition, Wyatt must abstain from the "consumption of alcohol or other intoxicating substances (and) the consumption of drugs except in accordance with a medical prescription."

Winnipeg police have described the offence as a "serious sexual assault," a term they use to refer to attacks consistent with rape.

Wyatt isn’t required to appear in person at the Aug. 28 hearing, assuming a legal representative is present. He previously told the Free Press he’s retained lawyer Evan Roitenberg and plans to fight the charge in court.

Coun. Russ Wyatt has been charged with sexually assaulting a Winnipeg woman on Jan. 13. He was taken into custody on July 10, shortly after police received lab results connected to the investigation. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Files)</p>

Coun. Russ Wyatt has been charged with sexually assaulting a Winnipeg woman on Jan. 13. He was taken into custody on July 10, shortly after police received lab results connected to the investigation. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

"I have no comment to make regarding the allegation against me, other than to say that I am innocent of any wrongdoing. I will defend myself in a court of law and will only respond further to the allegation in a courtroom," Wyatt said in a written statement earlier this month.

He has directed further media inquires to Roitenberg, who did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

If convicted, Wyatt could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Wyatt is accused of attacking a woman in a Winnipeg home. She is not his wife, nor is she a city employee. Winnipeg Police Service Const. Rob Carver previously told reporters Wyatt and his alleged victim were known to each other.

Wyatt missed last Thursday's city council meeting — the first since his arrest; his colleagues unanimously passed a motion excusing his absence for a "doctor’s appointment."

The arrest was the latest development in a tumultuous half-year for the city hall veteran.

Not long after the investigation into the alleged attack began, Wyatt disappeared from the public eye. It was later revealed he'd requested an extended leave of absence for what city officials described as a personal family matter. Even his council colleagues claimed to not know where he was.

In March, the Free Press revealed Wyatt was in rehab, seeking treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse at the Aurora Recovery Centre in Gimli.

Coun. Russ Wyatt missed last week's city council meeting, the first meeting since the charges were laid. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Files)</p>

Coun. Russ Wyatt missed last week's city council meeting, the first meeting since the charges were laid. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

At the time, in a letter to the Free Press, Wyatt said he’d been battling depression for a number of years, which led him down a path of "addiction to alcohol and a substance use disorder."

Wyatt, who has represented the Transcona ward since he was first elected to council in 2002, said his personal struggles spiralled to the point they began negatively affecting his family, leading him to realize he needed to seek help in order to take back control of his life.

He returned to city hall in May, noticeably thinner and saying he’d found a new lease on life.

In June, at the Winnipeg Pride festival, Wyatt came out as bisexual, saying he’d been living a double life.

After initially announcing he would not seek re-election, Wyatt almost immediately backpedalled, saying he was undecided about his political future. At the time of his arrest, he was publicly mulling a bid for mayor.

He has not responded to multiple requests for comment on whether he plans to step down before October's civic election.

— With files from Katie May

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

Read full biography

Comments are not accepted on this story because they might prejudice a case before the courts.

Why aren't comments accepted on this story? See our Commenting Terms and Conditions.