UPDATE: 2:50 p.m.
The arrest warrant issued for Curtis Sagmoen has been rescinded, according to Crown communications counsel Dan McLaughlin.
Sagmoen’s lawyer, Lisa Helps, made an appearance Thursday afternoon and the arraignment hearing has been rescheduled for April 22.
Prominent Indigenous rights activists joined dozens of protesters who returned to the Vernon courthouse Thursday calling for justice for lost sisters, while a 107-day-old matter came before a judge once again involving Curtis Wayne Sagmoen, a high-profile North Okanagan man.
This time, because his lawyer failed to appear for the latest in a series of postponed arraignment hearings, a warrant has been put out for Sagmoen’s arrest.
Sagmoen was expected to enter a plea for an assault charge April 8 involving a peace officer stemming from an Oct. 29, 2020, incident near Falkland.
The incident coincided with a police search warrant at Sagmoen’s place of residence on his parent’s Salmon River Road property.
Earlier that month, police had visited the farm after an alert of suspicious activity. At that time, RCMP released a photo of Sagmoen — who is notorious for crimes against sex trade workers — and issued a warning in the interest of public safety.
The matter has been delayed several times since Sagmoen’s first arraignment hearing date Feb. 11, 2021.
The reasons behind the delays are linked to scheduling conflicts between defence and Crown and reviewing the disclosure — which allows the accused to see the case against them before making a more informed plea.
Activists placed photographs of missing women and posters demanding justice on the lawn of the Vernon courthouse.
Gladys Radek travelled from afar in a car plastered with posters to join the gathering on the courthouse lawn. She is among the activists who helped draw initial attention to the Highway of Tears, a corridor from Prince George to Prince Rupert that has been a locus of missing and murdered woman and girls for more than 50 years.
“My job is to help the families, and I’m here for the families to support them,” Radek told Black Press Media.
A Gitxsan/Wet’suwet’en First Nations woman, Radek said the delays in Sagmoen’s hearing reflect a broader trend in cases of missing and murdered women and girls, pointing to the national inquiry that concluded two years ago and the many women who have gone missing since the inquiry’s final report.
“It’s a waiting game with the justice system.”
Radek was echoed by Chief Judy Wilson, an executive member of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), who has paid many visits to the Vernon courthouse in support of family members of lost girls.
“We really need to look at what the issues are, why it’s being delayed,” Wilson said Thursday. “And why the legalities of this case are not coming together. There needs to be more accountability to all on that.
“We really need to have this dealt with in a way that brings closure for these families. There’s no closure when there’s no accountability.”
Sagmoen has a history of assault against women working in the sex industry.
He was found guilty for disguising himself and threatening a sex trade worker with a shotgun Dec. 20, 2019, but was given time served and 36 months probation.
Two months later, he was found guilty for hitting a different woman in the industry with an ATV so hard her shoes flew off in an Aug. 10, 2017, incident.
He was sentenced to five months jail time on June 19, 2020, but was again credited with time served and walked free with 36 months of probation.
His probation order bans him from drug and alcohol use, accessing websites advertising escort or dating services, having more than one cellphone number and leaving the province without permission from his bail supervisor.
Sagmoen is ordered to reside at his family property on Salmon River Road as per his probation and has a 10-year weapons ban.
The 10-hectare family farm became the subject of an extensive police search Oct. 19, 2017, and the remains of missing 18-year-old Traci Genereaux were found.
Although her death was deemed suspicious, no charges have been laid.
At the time five women – Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson, Deanna Wertz, Generaux and Nicole Bell – were missing from the North Okanagan area.
While COVID-19 has inhibited protesters from coming out in full force, Wilson said many are staying active online and on social media.
Like Wilson and Radek, they’re there to support the families that are still looking for closure.
“The families are devastated. I can’t imagine not knowing where my daughter or my sister or aunt or mother was, all these years,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t imagine the pain.”
- with Black Press files