Alberta briefs – December 2

Stettler RCMP are searching for two men who robbed a bar in the Stettler hotel at knifepoint Monday.

Stettler’s Beat Lounge robbed

STETTLER — Stettler RCMP are searching for two men who robbed a bar in the Stettler hotel at knifepoint Monday.

The robbery happened about 10 p.m. at the Beat Lounge.

One male suspect wore a mask and is described as about six feet (183 cm) with dark hair. He was wearing a blue jacket and jeans.

The other man remained a distance away and a good description was not available, said RCMP.

No one was injured in the incident.

Women tell of sex assaults

EDMONTON — Two Edmonton women have testified they were inappropriately touched by a taekwondo instructor during group lessons.

The pair, who cannot be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, were the first of 16 alleged sexual assault victims slated to testify at Thomas Innerebner’s trial.

Innerebner pleaded not guilty Monday to nine counts of sexual assault and eight counts of sexual contact with a child under 14.

Both women, aged 25 and 24, came forward after hearing about similar allegations.

One woman testified she stopped taking lessons because she began to feel “uncomfortable with the way he was touching me.”

She told the jury Innerebner, 52, touched her on her breasts and in the crotch area during demonstrations.

The other woman said she was initially unsure, but after the second incident, she told her mother that she was quitting.

“He gave me the willies up and down — the shivers,” said the woman, adding she told her mother at the time “he’s weird and I’m not going back.”

One of the women began crying as she was asked about the newspaper article.

“At that point, unfortunately, I realized maybe I wasn’t the only one,” she said, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.

“I guess I thought it was time I told somebody.”

Under cross examination, the woman agreed the alleged sexual touching happened right in front of other nearby students in a class with approximately 20 students.

In an opening statement to the eight-man, four-woman jury, Crown prosecutor Dave Hill said there will be 20 witnesses, including seven alleged child victims.

Hill told jurors all but one of the alleged sex attacks took place in class with the exception happening at his home and said the case “boils down to credibility.”

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh told the jury they will hear testimony from Innerebner, whom he described as a former realtor, a father of two, a semi-professional musician and a taekwondo instructor since 1994.

“The defence position is Mr. Innerebner never sexually assaulted anyone,” said Beresh, adding his client was “shocked” to learn of the allegations.

The trial is scheduled for two weeks.

Money woes no cause for panic

EDMONTON — Health Minister Ron Liepert says Alberta Health Services may be short of cash but there’s no need for the public to be concerned.

Liepert confirms the province’s health provider is spending beyond its means and, on paper, could run out of money by February.

He was responding to a media report about an online document that suggests Alberta Health Services could be facing a $1-billion deficit on top of an existing financial shortfall of $1.3 billion.

But Liepert says there’s “no need to panic” and there’s no plan to close hospitals.

He says it’s a problem of cash flow that has to be addressed by the province.

Liepert says he still believes having one superboard to administer health care is better and less expensive than the old system of regional health boards.

Alberta Health plans to shave $250 million from its deficit through cost savings this year, and is looking for ways to save another $965 million annually.

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