GM Tillman of Saskatchewan Roughriders pleads not guilty to sex assault charge

The general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault.

Defence lawyer Aaron Fox (right) entered a plea of not guilty in the sexual assault case against Eric Tillman

Defence lawyer Aaron Fox (right) entered a plea of not guilty in the sexual assault case against Eric Tillman

REGINA — The general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault.

Eric Tillman was not at the provincial courthouse in Regina on Tuesday, but his lawyer, Aaron Fox, entered the plea on his behalf.

Tillman, who helped lead the Riders to the Grey Cup championship in 2007, has been on paid administrative leave from the Canadian Football League club.

The case is set to be back in court June 12 at which time a trial date could be set.

A pre-trial meeting, called a case management conference, is to be held the previous day. Fox said the Crown, defence and a judge will discuss the case to “see if some things might be resolved” or if it will go to trial.

Fox said it’s “always possible” a trial could be avoided.

“Obviously something could happen between now and the June date and something may come out of the discussions at the June meeting which might lead to a resolution and that could be anything,” Fox said outside the courthouse.

Tillman, 51, was charged in early February after a complaint by a 16-year-old girl who alleges he sexually assaulted her last summer.

When the charge was first laid, the married father of two suggested there was more to the story and said he would rely on the justice system to air the facts.

The Crown has opted to proceed summarily against him, meaning the allegations are considered less serious.

When asked how Tillman was feeling, Fox said the case is causing his client “a degree of anxiety and (he) would like to see it move ahead.”