The criminal trial for Kim Wallace, director of corporate services with the City of Chestermere began at the Strathmore Provincial Courthouse, July 17.

Wallace is charged with assaulting a fellow staff member and has pleaded not guilty, testifying in her own defense.

She has also previously pleaded not guilty to the charges in April, when she was scheduled to appear before the court and information regarding the accusation was released. 

The court heard the testimony of the alleged victim, Sarah Willgress, who said she was berated by Wallace that morning in regards to the city’s communication strategy needing to be presented to council. 

This followed, according to Wallace, a “perception of council” that the city’s communications team was poorly conveying the city as intended, particularly amidst investigations at the time regarding council and the city’s conduct and governance, as well as irregular financial figures from 2022. 

The altercation in question was allegedly between Wallace, Willgress, and three other members of Chestermere’s communications team at City Hall. 

Willgress testified before the court she was frightened by Wallace’s conduct, by way of “screaming” at Willgress, and forcefully poking her with two fingers in her right shoulder before retreating into her office. 

The witness continued to describe roughly 10 minutes later, Wallace would return to strike her across the shoulder and instructing Willgress follow her into her office.

Two members of Willgress’ team, Graydon Pease and Lauren Merrified, also testified Wallace poked the complainant at least two times in their presence. Both subsequently rejected suggestions by Wallace’s defense, Alain Hepner, the pokes never occurred. 

Willgress described her position with the city as her “dream job” but did not consent to any physical contact. She resigned from her position with the City of Chestermere on Feb. 22.

Wallace denied the poking incident in the communications office ever occurred, adding she was too far away from Willgress at the time to touch her.

Chestermere Mayor Jeff Colvin testified as a character witness in defense of Wallace, as well as two sitting city councillors, advocating for her character.

Hepner has previously submitted a plea of not guilty on Wallace’s behalf at Strathmore Provincial Court, March 21. 

Wallace was scheduled to appear before the court April 4, to which she did not attend in person, instead submitting a plea via video link.

Wallace also denies berating the communications team for poorly representing the city, instead advocating there was a perception within council and the public of their supposed underperformance.

The Crown requested an adjournment from Justice Karen Crowshoe until Aug. 4 to examine rebuttal evidence that calls Wallace’s character into question. 

Closing arguments will be made during the next court session, and Crowshoe will set a date for her decision to be presented.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 26, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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