Bail review in young sex case
Accused child molester remains free

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 06/96) - A 57-year-old Enterprise man Crown lawyers are fighting to put behind bars remains free, waiting to be tried on charges he sexually assaulted six young children.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice John Vertes has granted Jake Klassen's lawyer permission to withdraw from the case.

Vertes also ordered Crown and defence lawyers to prepare for a bail review Thursday.

Three weeks ago, territorial court judge Thomas Davis freed Klassen on $40,000 bond, shortly after Hay River RCMP arrested and charged him.

Police had conducted a week-long investigation into complaints made against the former businessman who moved to Enterprise from Trout Lake, Alta., about five years ago.

Davis ordered Klassen to move to Yellowknife, stay away from Enterprise and avoid places frequented by children under the age of 14.

Two weeks ago, the Crown asked for a review of Klassen's bail. But when police and lawyers couldn't find the father, grandfather and husband of 40 years in time for an Oct. 25 hearing, a judge delayed it one week.

Last Friday, Crown lawyer Alan Regel told Vertes he believes Klassen is a danger to the public. In light of new, evidence, which is covered by a publication ban, Regel wants the man jailed until his trial.

But then Vertes allowed defence lawyer Robert Gorin -- who vigorously opposed the Crown's request -- to drop the case. He put off the hearing another week to allow Klassen time to find a new lawyer.

"My schedule simply does not permit me to" properly handle the case, said Gorin. "I had no idea the allegations were so extensive."

Enterprise is a community of about 60 on Hwy. 2 just north of the NWT-Alta. border.