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This article was published 16/2/2017 (1520 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser was facing serious criminal charges that could have kept him from being behind the wheel at the time of his Valentine's Day stabbing death.
The Free Press has learned that Fraser, 58, had been out on bail awaiting trial for historical child sex abuse allegations which his own union suggests may have been "kept under wraps" by Fraser and possibly Transit officials.
Court documents show Fraser was arrested in 2013 after a now-adult woman came forward to police, claiming she was repeatedly molested between 1982 and 1991, beginning when she was approximately four years old.
Fraser was released on conditions that included having no contact with the alleged victim, notifying the court of any change in address and keeping the peace and being of good behaviour. However, he was not prohibited from having contact with any child under the age of 16, as is often the case with sexual assault allegations.
Fraser went through a preliminary hearing in May 2015 at which time provincial court Judge Brian Corrin heard testimony and ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial in Court of Queen's Bench on charges of sexual assault and sexual interference. It was set to be heard by a jury last November, only to be cancelled when Fraser didn't show up for jury selection on Oct. 27. A warrant was issued for his arrest and his lawyer made a motion to withdraw from the case.
Fraser was arrested four days later, only to be released on a new bail order with the consent of the Crown. Last month, the case was set down again for a two-week jury trial that was scheduled to begin on Jan. 8, 2018. The Crown will now enter a stay of proceedings following Fraser's sudden death, which police say came after he tried to remove the lone passenger who remained on his bus at the end of the line early Tuesday morning near the University of Manitoba.
The complainant told Fraser’s preliminary hearing that over the years, he had "basically touched me and made me do things inappropriately from the time I was about five until twelve."
Years would pass before the complainant told her story to an older woman. The older woman testified she confronted Fraser.
"He said … ‘I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt her.’ Now to me, that’s an admission of guilt," she said.
Fraser denied any wrongdoing.
"The accused denies in any way engaging in sexual conduct with the complainant," reads a pre-trial conference memorandum.
Fraser suffered extensive stab wounds to much of his body and died in hospital. A 22-year-old man with a lengthy criminal history is now facing charges of second-degree murder, possession of a weapon and breaching a previous probation order.
News of the criminal charges against Fraser caught union officials by surprise.
John Callahan, president of ATU Local 1505, told the Free Press on Wednesday that neither he nor anyone at the union office were aware of the case against Fraser, the cancelled trial and his subsequent re-arrest and the new pending trial.
"We know nothing about it," Callahan said, adding civic employees are required to inform their supervisors if they’ve been charged with a criminal offence.
"Any time (an employee) is charged, they have to make it known to the employer and we have to represent them," Callahan said. "It’s part of the process."
Callahan said it wouldn’t be unusual for an employee to attempt to hide the criminal matter by booking vacation time to coincide with trial dates. He said civic staff are required by the city’s code of conduct to report if they’ve been charged and they can be disciplined for failing to do so.
Callahan said when a civic employee notifies their supervisor that they have been charged, the city then notifies the union, which is required to represent them in any subsequent discipline hearing.
Callahan said if Fraser notified his superiors, no one at Transit contacted the union.
Transit "obviously kept that under wraps for him," Callahan said. "Someone was looking after him because we know absolutely nothing about it and typically we would."
Officials with the City of Winnipeg refused to say Thursday whether they knew about the charges. A spokesman would only say that, in general, Criminal Code charges do not automatically lead to a suspension or other discipline.
"In cases where employees of the City of Winnipeg have been charged or have self-disclosed a sexual offence, the city conducts an employment investigation to determine the potential risk to the public and to the employees," David Driedger, manager of corporate communications, wrote in an email.
Under the City of Winnipeg Employee Code of Conduct, "employees must not engage in any conduct or activity that contravenes any law in force in Manitoba, including city by-laws, which might detrimentally affect the City’s reputation, make the employee unable to properly perform his or her employment responsibilities, cause other employees to refuse or be reluctant to work with the employee, or otherwise inhibit the City’s ability to efficiently manage and direct its operations."
Had the charges against Fraser been known, it's possible he could have been taken off the streets while the matter remained before the courts given the nature of the allegations.
Fraser's new lawyer, Jeremy Kostiuk, did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.
- with files from Kevin Rollason and the Canadian Press
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.