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Coaldale man given conditional discharge for indecent act

Posted on March 5, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Delon Shurtz
Southern Alberta Newspapers

A 35-year-old Coaldale man caught performing an indecent act in public last year has been put on probation and warned not to repeat his offence at risk of going to jail.

Clayton Myles Hart pleaded guilty Feb. 23 in Lethbridge court of justice to a single count of performing an indecent act in the presence of one or more persons. He was given a conditional discharge for the non-violent offence, fined $100 and put on probation, with several conditions, for one year.

“If you don’t follow the conditions of the probation order you can lose the benefit of the conditional discharge and be charged with additional offences,” Justice Erin Olsen told Hart. “So it does hang over you, in a sense, for the next year, as well hoping to support you in your rehabilitation.”

Hart was sitting in his vehicle in a department store parking lot on the southside when a woman exited the store, climbed into her own vehicle and drove away. As she travelled west along 24 Avenue she noticed a vehicle, driven by Hart, pull up on her passenger side and stop in the turning lane, which she considered odd since there wasn’t any oncoming traffic.

“She glanced to her right and in doing so she was able to see that he was masturbating and staring at her,” Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox told court.

He said the woman drove forward slightly, and Hart did the same thing while continuing to perform the indecent act.

Fox said Hart offered a full confession, without which the Crown would have had a difficult time proving its case had it gone to trial, given the position of the vehicles at the time of the offence.

“So your honour I would suggest a conditional discharge is appropriate.”

Margaret Morse, student at law with the Hadford Defence Group, said Hart is extremely remorseful for his conduct, and suggested the incident may have been a cry for help.

“He indicated that he’s needed counselling for a long time but he hasn’t been able to get it,” Morse said.

Olsen agreed with the recommendation by the Crown and defence for a conditional discharge, and said the sentence, which includes counselling and treatment, should aid in his rehabilitation. But she warned Hart not to repeat the offence.

“The most important thing is that this not happen again Mr. Hart. If it did it would be a symptom of a pretty serious underlying issue, and in some of those kinds of cases we have no choice but to deal with offenders by separating them from society, meaning people go to jail.”

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