The trial of a Red Deer contractor and volunteer preacher ground to a sudden stop on Monday when new disclosure was given to the defence.
Stanley Richard Schalk, volunteer pastor with Potter’s Hands Ministry for the past 15 years and self-employed in construction and property management, is accused of fondling an employee’s breast while they were picnicking together on a rural property near Delburne on June 15, 2015.
Schalk, 57, has been on trial before Judge Darrell Riemer in Red Deer provincial court, opening on July 21, and then reconvening on Monday.
Crown prosecutor Dominique Mathurin wrapped up her case against him on Monday morning, with testimony from the alleged victim’s mother, whose name cannot be released under a court order banning publication of information that would identify her.
Schalk then testified in his own defence and his counsel, Lorne Goddard, had planned to call additional witnesses in the afternoon.
However, Goddard asked for an ajournment immediately after lunch, stating that the Crown had provided him at 12:30 with new disclosure which he had not yet had time to review. Not knowing if or how the new evidence would affect his case Goddard asked that the trial be adjourned until Wednesday morning.
Mathurin apologized to the court, saying the disclosure had been missed earlier through a “lack of diligence” and that she had not planned to use it in the case against Schalk.
During his testimony, Schalk admitted to the incident, stating that he believed he had the woman’s consent. He testified for defence counsel Lorne Goddard that he and “Jane Doe” had developed a very close relationship in the months leading up the picnic.
Their friendship had started when she asked him to help with funeral arrangements for a girl who had killed herself. Schalk said he offered Doe a painting contract, starting with some work on his own home, when he learned that she was losing her property, her electricity was being cut off and she had no phone.
He testified that he helped her shop for a used car and lent her $13,000 to buy a Lincoln Continental they found together on an Internet shopping site. He said it was not unusual for him to help people that way, especially those who work for him. Normally, however, he would co-sign for a loan rather than lending the money up front.
He testified that their friendship evolved and included many hours spent talking on the telephone as well as “extended embraces” when they met in person.
On the day of the alleged assault, they had been sitting side-by-side on a picnic blanket when he laid down and put his hand on her shoulder. They were both lying on the blanket when the incident occurred. Schalk said in his testimony and during cross-examination that he felt surprised when she told him to stop, and then ashamed for what he had done.
“I understand that we both did something we shouldn’t have done that day,” said Schalk.
He told Mathurin that, in the weeks afterward, Doe had a role to play as well, stating that he asked her to “put the lid on the cookie jar.”
He explained that the cookie jar was a metaphor for her breasts and that, for that aspect of their relationship to remain off limits, the long conversations had to stop and she needed to stop flirting with him.
He verified that Doe’s mother had met with him at a local restaurant on July 12 to talk about the incident, that he told her he was sorry for what happened and that he was “doing his best” to make sure it didn’t happen again.
He said Doe became upset with him and quit her job in September, when he told her that he would have no more work for her after the 28th. He said all of the work he needed done would have been completed, including painting doors on apartments in the Potter’s Hands affordable housing units.
He testified that she has not repaid him for the car loan, written over three years.
His trial continues on Wednesday morning.