The Canadian Press
A man accused of violence against sex workers in British Columbia has pleaded not guilty to five charges.
Curtis Sagmoen pleaded not guilty to disguising his face with intent to commit an offence, uttering threats, possession of a control substance and two firearm offences.
A publication ban prevents reporting other details from the trial on Monday in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vernon.
The trial, which is expected to last about seven days, is being heard without a jury.
A group of concerned women and men were there, as they have been for most of Sagmoen’s court appearances.
“I have organized for women and activists to participate from locally and as far away as the coast,” Okanagan-area, Secwepemc activist Jody Leon told APTN News.
“We will stand for accountability and justice.”
The remains of Traci Genereaux were found when police searched a farm belonging to Sagmoen’s parents. (APTN file)
Sagmoen was charged in October 2017 after police used a warrant to search a property in Salmon Arm.
It’s the same area where police found the remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux while searching a 10-hectare farm that belonged to Wayne and Evelyn Sagmoen, based on a title search.
Sagmoen’s lawyer has said her client lives with his parents at the same address where the search occurred.
At the time of the search, police said Genereaux’s death was suspicious but they have not released a cause of death. No charges have been laid in the Genereaux case and police have not named a suspect.
Six days before police started searching the farm in Salmon Arm they issued a warning to the general public and sex workers to take extra precautions for their safety around Salmon River Road. The RCMP have not linked the search of the farm with the public warning.
Some of the concerned citizens at a previous court appearance. (APTN file)
Sagmoen also faces a separate trial on an assault charge by judge alone in B.C. Supreme Court on Dec. 9.
Police have said the alleged victim worked as an escort in the north Okanagan.
In February, Sagmoen pleaded guilty to assault in an unrelated incident involving a sex worker in Maple Ridge in 2013.
He was also given an absolute discharge by a judge in Vernon after pleading guilty to a single count of mischief last December.
A Vernon women’s shelter said it is monitoring the “Sagmoen saga” alongside Leon and her group, to keep an eye on the way law enforcement and the criminal justice system deal with female victims.
“Survivors and victims are routinely blamed by the Canadian legal system and law enforcement for the violence inflicted on them by men,” said Brooklyn Fowler of Battered Women’s Support Services.
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With files from Kathleen Martens