Former Iqaluit mayor to stand trial on sex assault charge
Bryan Pearson pleads not guilty
Iqaluit businessman Bryan Pearson pleaded not guilty in court this week to a single charge of sexual assault.
Pearson is accused of committing the offence in Iqaluit 14 years ago, at a time when he was still highly active in municipal politics.
In entering his plea, Pearson elected to be tried by a territorial court judge without a jury. This means there will be no preliminary hearing and that he and his accuser can proceed directly to trial.
Upon Pearson’s appearance in court on Monday, Judge Beverly Browne declared herself in conflict with the case because of her long acquaintance with the accused.
In her place, a judge from Montreal will preside over the trial, which is slated to begin October 29.
The crown prosecutor did not ask for bail and no conditions have been placed on Pearson’s movements between now and the trial date.
The charge stems from a complaint filed with the RCMP by another Nunavut resident. Under the Criminal Code, names of sexual assault complainants may not be published or broadcast.
A well-known community leader and a long-time resident of the North, Pearson has held a variety of public positions over the years. He was a territorial councillor for south Baffin region in the 1970s, and served a number of terms as mayor of Frobisher Bay in the 1970s and 1980s.
Pearson ran unsuccesfully for a seat in the House of Commons as Nunatsiaq riding’s Tory candidate in 1988.
In 1993 he was appointed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to serve a three-year term as a part-time member of the National Parole Board.
Since the early 1960s, Pearson has owned and operated a range of businesses in Iqaluit, including Arctic Ventures, which he started. He currently runs the Astro Hill Mall Theatre, Iqaluit’s popular first-run movie house.