Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William has been charged with one count of sexual interference with a person under the age of 16. Last Friday the chief was at Tl’etinqox First Nation where he and other leaders thanked the Mexican firefighters for their efforts on the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire. Angie Mindus photo

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William has been charged with one count of sexual interference with a person under the age of 16. Last Friday the chief was at Tl’etinqox First Nation where he and other leaders thanked the Mexican firefighters for their efforts on the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire. Angie Mindus photo

UPDATE: B.C. First Nations chief denies sexual interference against a minor charges

Elected Chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Roger William made first court appearance Wednesday

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William has been charged with one count of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16.

The allegation, which came to light Wednesday in a news release issued by the B.C. Prosecution Service (BCPS), was addressed during a first court appearance on the matter Wednesday, Aug. 30 in Williams Lake Provincial Court.

When reached by the Tribune, William said “it has not been easy,” but that only his lawyer could speak to the media about the charge.

Long-time lawyer for the Chief and the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, David Rosenberg, said William is not guilty.

“I can say that Roger William will vigorously defend against the charge as he is innocent,” he said.

The offence is alleged to have occurred on or about May 12, 2107 in Williams Lake, stated the BCPS.

Vancouver lawyer Brock Martland who approved the charge against William was appointed Special Prosecutor for the case on Aug. 28, shortly after a report to Crown Counsel relating to the charge was received by the BCPS, stated the release.

“The appointment of a special prosecutor is intended to avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice,” the BCPS media statement noted. “He was given a mandate to provide legal advice to the RCMP investigators as may be necessary, conduct any related charge assessment and assume conduct of the prosecution if charges were approved.”

William was a just a young man when the precedent-setting William Rights and Title case, which bears his name, was launched more than 25 years ago.

At that time elders in the community recognized him as a leader, which he has been for most of his life.

The decision in 2014, which recognized Aboriginal rights and title, has since had far-reaching effects on First Nations’ territorial rights across the country.

Rosenberg said the personal case William faces now could take many months or even years to resolve.

It takes a lifetime to build a “great” reputation like Chief Roger William has and all it takes is one allegation to destroy it, Rosenberg said.

For the last 25 years, Rosenberg has been the lead counsel for the Tsilhqot’in rights and title case.

“I took the title case to the Supreme Court of Canada and argued it there so I was the lawyer for the Tsilhqot’in Nation in that matter,” Rosenberg said.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, sexual interference is described as a every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years.

William’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Williams Lake Provincial Court.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

City of Chilliwack survey asks for feedback on planned Rosedale skate park

The new structure will occupy a 3,000 square foot space in the middle of Rosedale Park

Newly installed art work honouring the Brett family aviation history in Chilliwack. (Anthem Properties)
WATCH: Neon sculpture beaming yellow light across downtown Chilliwack in the shape of a plane

New public artwork in Salish Plaza honours aviation pioneers, the Brett family of Chilliwack

Jag Deol, owner of Sangam Restaurant and Catering, is collecting non-perishable food items for the Chilliwack Salvation Army at both his restaurant locations. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack restaurant hosts food drive for Salvation Army

Sangam restaurant will match all donations of non-perishable food that come in

Crews work on reconstructing Spadina Avenue in Chilliwack on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sprucing up of Spadina Avenue with $2.8 million redux wrapping up shortly

Curbing, trees, landscaping, irrigation and street lighting should be complete by early December

Chilliwack’s Klim twins, Matthias and Zach, are the tall guys in the back row (Zach with a green stuffie on his shoulders, Matthias to the right), helping to sort toys at the Archway Community Services Food Bank in Abbotsford. (UFV Cascades photo)
Chilliwack’s Klim twins get involved in community service with UFV men’s basketball team

No games for the G.W. Graham grads due to COVID, but they are doing other things with the Cascades

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

Most Read