RCMP had laid several charges including sexual assault against Innisfail councillor Donnie Hill in the fall of 2020. Police said the charges were in connection with alleged historical offences dating to 2013 to 2015. (Photo from Town of Innisfail)

RCMP had laid several charges including sexual assault against Innisfail councillor Donnie Hill in the fall of 2020. Police said the charges were in connection with alleged historical offences dating to 2013 to 2015. (Photo from Town of Innisfail)

All criminal charges dropped against Innisfail town councillor

Coun. Donnie Hill had been charged with sexual assault, assault, forcible confinement and harassment

Charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement, assault and criminal harassment have been dropped against an Innisfail town councillor.

Red Deer Crown prosecutor Brian Shantz withdrew the charges against Donnie Hill in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday morning.

“In prosecuting any individual we are regularly reviewing the evidence to ensure that when a matter goes to trial, we have a reasonable likelihood of conviction by proving beyond a reasonable doubt the allegations made against the charged person can be made out by the evidence,” said Shantz in an email on Wednesday.

“In withdrawing the charges, after extensive review we concluded the threshold could not be met at trial.”

On Monday, Hill said he understands the justice system has its procedures.

RCMP laid the charges against Hill in the fall of 2020. Police said the charges were in connection with alleged offences dating from 2013 to 2015.

A trial had been scheduled for Jan. 17 to 21, 2022 in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench. The case never got to the point where Hill entered a plea, nor was there a preliminary hearing..

Last February, Hill was sanctioned by council for breaching code of conduct regulations that say members must “arrange their private affairs and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny.”

A statement from council released at the time said “his private affairs involving recent and past criminal charges, though unproven, have had a negative impact on the reputation of council and the community.

Council voted to sanction Hill by removing him from all council committees “until the legal proceedings involving his private affairs are concluded.”

Hill, who was first elected in 2017, said he supported council’s decision at the time. “I don’t think I would have been as effective on those committees as I would have been if I wasn’t facing these things.

“As far as council is concerned I will definitely be entitled to being reinstated on my committees.”

Hill has announced he will run again this October.

After review by senior editors, this story has been edited from its original version to more accurately reflect contemporary Canadian journalistic standards as they relate to neutrality and absence of bias. In all criminal cases, where allegations remain unproven, coverage must maintain a careful balance between the accused and alleged victim.

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