A special Crown prosecutor handling the case of an Eckville man facing more than 80 child sexual exploitation charges has yet to hear from the accused man’s lawyer.
Christopher Juneau appeared in Red Deer provincial court through a closed-circuit video link from the Red Deer Remand Centre, where he has been in custody since mid-January.
Judge Jim Mitchell expressed concern that no one had contacted the special prosecutions office on Juneau’s behalf, or requested disclosure, information and evidence that support the charges.
Juneau needs to get in touch with his lawyer or apply to legal aid to have one appointed, said the judge, pointing out the gravity of the charges he is facing.
Juneau said he is in his cell 23 hours a day and has trouble getting hold of his lawyer in the only hour he has each day to try to get access to a phone.
He is not eligible for legal aid because he earned too much money last year, he said.
Mitchell directed that Juneau return to court next Friday to provide an update on what progress had been made with his lawyer.
Juneau was arrested by Sylvan Lake RCMP on Jan. 10 after Australian police tipped off the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team’s internet child exploitation unit about a suspect involved in trading child pornography images online.
Investigators searched homes in Eckville and Fox Creek associated with the suspect. A number of computers and electronic devices were seized and submitted for forensic analysis. Half a million photos and videos were found.
Earlier this month, the response team announced that more than 70 additional charges had been laid against Juneau after other alleged victims came forward, and forensic analysis had revealed the contents of his computers and other electronic devices.
It is now alleged Juneau sexually assaulted at least eight child victims dating back to 2013. The new charges include seven counts each of sexual assault, sexual contact with a child and sexual counselling of a child, as well as a single count of administering a noxious substance.
He has also been charged with 13 counts each of possession of child porn, accessing child porn; making, printing or publishing child porn, as well as numerous counts of voyeurism and distributing or selling child porn. He has also been charged with two counts of breaching court orders.