The B.C. Prosecution Service says it has approved four counts of sexual assault dating back to 1974 against former First Nations Summit leader Ed John.
In a statement issued Thursday, the service said that special prosecutor Michael Klein was appointed on Feb. 22 to look into allegations of sexual offences against John, the Hereditary Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation, that were alleged to have occurred in and around Prince George.
Klein was appointed by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peter Juk.
“The appointment of a Special Prosecutor is intended to avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice considering the nature of the allegations and the identity of the accused as a prominent Indigenous leader,” said the statement.
John, who is also a former provincial cabinet minister under the government of Ujjal Dosanjh, is facing four counts of having sexual intercourse with a female without her consent.
According to the prosecution service, the incidents are alleged to have occurred between March 1, 1974 and Sept. 15, 1974.
Prosecution service spokesman Dan McLaughlin says the charges are alleged to involve one person.
John’s first court appearance is set for Dec. 10.
John could not be reached for comment at the time of this posting.
Along with being the leader of the First Nations Summit and a hereditary chief, John is a lawyer who holds honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Victoria.
He completed his eleventh consecutive term as an elected leader of the First Nations Summit political executive in June and served for five years as a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
His biography also says he was involved in the development of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007 and implemented by the British Columbia government just last month.
In 2015, then-premier Christy Clark appointed John as Special Advisor on Indigenous Children in Care and after extensive consultations John submitted a report one year later containing 85 recommendations to overhaul B.C.’s Indigenous child welfare system.
With files from the Canadian Press