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Sex crime case of Montreal billionaire Robert Miller to return to court in October

The case against Robert Miller moved one step closer to trial today, even as questions remain about the ailing billionaire's ability to appear in court to face multiple sex charges. Quebec Superior Court is seen in Montreal, Wednesday, March 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Original Publication Date July 03, 2024 - 8:36 AM

MONTREAL - The case against Robert Miller has moved a step closer to trial, even as questions remain about the ailing Montreal billionaire's ability to appear in court to face multiple sex charges.

Lawyers for Miller and for the Crown appeared in a Montreal courtroom on Wednesday, but the accused was not present as a next date was set for Oct. 1.

The founder of global electronics distributor Future Electronics was arrested in May on 21 sex charges involving 10 complainants, many of whom were minors when the alleged offences occurred between 1994 and 2016. One of the alleged victims was under the age of 14.

Prosecutor Delphine Mauger confirmed the Crown had provided the bulk of the evidence against Miller to his lawyers, in a complex case spanning many years and two separate police investigations.

"The more investigations there are, the more complexity, the more documents, the more statements, so the volume of evidence is very large in the case of Mr. Miller," she told reporters outside the courtroom.

Police had opened an investigation into allegations against Miller in 2009, but at that time the province's prosecution service decided not to proceed with charges. The second investigation occurred more recently, after reports by CBC and Radio-Canada that he allegedly committed sexual offences.

Mauger said a judge will have to determine whether Miller is healthy enough to stand trial, after the 80-year-old's lawyers argued that he's too sick with Parkinson's disease to appear in court.

In an application for a stay last month, Miller's lawyers said the illness has left the accused in an "extremely frail condition,” bedridden since 2022 and unable to bathe or feed himself. They said forcing him to appear in court could put his life in danger and would violate his right to a fair trial since he can't defend himself.

A Quebec Superior Court judge declined to hear the application for a stay of proceedings, but Mauger said a hearing on the issue of his aptitude to appear will be held in front of the trial judge at a later date.

"There will eventually be a debate," she said. "We’ll have an expert as well, and it will be up to the court and a judge to decide if Mr. Miller will be found physically fit to stand trial."

An alleged accomplice, Teresita Fuentes, was arrested in May on a warrant for procuring sexual services in connection to one of Miller's alleged victims, and was represented Wednesday by the same lawyers.

Miller stepped down as chairman and CEO of Future Electronics in February 2023, saying he would focus on protecting his reputation.

He is facing separate allegations in a proposed class-action lawsuit by dozens of women who claim he gave them money and gifts in exchange for sex when they were minors between 1996 and 2006. Miller denies the charges, which have not been tested in court.

Jeff Orenstein, who is leading the class-action application against Miller, said Wednesday the case now involves about 50 alleged victims, some as young as 11 and 12 at the time of the alleged offences. He said a hearing on whether the lawsuit will be authorized is expected to take place at the end of this year or the beginning of next. The lawyer added that he's still waiting for some written responses to questions he sent to Miller, after a judge granted permission for limited questioning in February.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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