Sex Charge Laid in Historic Sask. Case

January 10, 2012

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REGINA An allegation that dates back decades has a 65-year-old former Saskatchewan man before the court on a sex-related charge.

The charge against George Lyons Cargo, now of Neepawa, Man., is scheduled to return to Kamsack Provincial Court on Feb. 7. He's accused of indecent assault on a female, an offence alleged to have occurred between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1979 when the complainant was age 7. With subsequent changes to the Criminal Code, such an allegation today would result in a sexual assault charge.

According to a news release issued Tuesday by Kamsack RCMP, a 38-year-old woman came to police in July last year to report an incident alleged to have occurred at her residence in the Togo district in 1979. The woman had not previously disclosed the allegation to police.

At the time of the 1979 allegation, Cargo was residing in Canora.

As a minister in the United Church, Cargo has worked in several communities around Manitoba and Saskatchewan, including Canora and, in more recent years, Neepawa and area.

In an interview, RCMP Staff Sgt. Greg Nichol said Cargo would have been in a "position of authority" at the time of the 1979 allegation, but he declined to say what that position was. He said the complainant and the accused were not related.

Cargo was arrested in Neepawa last October, released for a first court appearance in November, and the matter returned to court earlier this month.

Nichol said there are occasions when complainants come forward after such a time span.

"If something twigs, or if they see the person that abused them maybe, or if they're out of their lives and all of a sudden back in their life it does happen," he said.

Asked about the challenges for investigators because of the passage of time, Nichol said police are required to consult with prosecutors at Saskatchewan Justice on any "historical sexual assault" complaint, and that would have occurred in this case.

Abby Ulmer is a counsellor with the Regina Women's Centre and Sexual Assault Line. She said there are several things that can prompt a complainant to come forward decades after abuse is alleged to have occurred.

"If people are abused as children, sometimes those memories are buried fairly deeply, and sometimes there's an event or something that will trigger them," she explained.

In the case of inter-generational abuse in families, a person may be prompted to come forward out of concern to protect other family members, she noted.

"Sometimes it's just really important that they are getting some help or just finally figuring out that they would like to speak out and have their voice heard about what's happened," said Ulmer.

She noted some complainants can feel guilty for not having come forward sooner particularly when other allegations surface. "We as counsellors always point out to people that when you're children, that's very hard to speak up, particularly if you're talking a period of time ago when the whole issue of sexual abuse wasn't discussed much.

"Now there's a lot more information out there," Ulmer added.

She said the Women's Centre often counsels victims grappling with abuse that goes back years. Not all of them opt to go through the legal system "but there's certainly a lot coming forward," she said.



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