Former Pelham CAO Darren Ottaway during a Pelham Town Council meeting, April 3 2018. VOICE FILE

Lawyer says former Pelham CAO may have brain tumour

Former Town of Pelham CAO Darren Ottaway had a court date in Cochrane on July 12 to answer to charges related to incidents alleged to have occurred prior to 2019, when he was still working in Pelham. In total, Ottaway is facing two assault charges, a sexual interference charge, and a sexual assault charge.

Paul Bragagnolo, Ottaway’s defence counsel, made a jolting announcement on July 12, when he told Justice Michel Labelle that his client was in the intensive care unit at an unspecified southern Ontario hospital, that he had experienced seizures, and may have a brain tumour. Not knowing Ottaway’s medical prognosis, Bragagnolo requested that the matter be adjourned to a later date.

The Crown is proceeding by indictment on the charges of sexual assault. Indictable offences include more serious offences under the Criminal Code, such as theft over $5,000, aggravated sexual assault, and murder. Indictable offences generally have no minimum penalty.

Justice Labelle agreed to adjourn the case to August 2 to set a trial date at that time. As of yet, a judicial pre-trial (JPT), which involves a meeting of the defence lawyer, the Crown attorney, the police officer in charge of the case, and a judge, has not been scheduled.

Ottaway is currently employed as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Cochrane, a community of 5000 located south of Moosonee in northeastern Ontario. Ottaway was hired as Pelham’s CAO in 2012, and was fired in 2019. He has taken a leave of absence from his Cochrane CAO role during the court case, and the town has appointed an acting CAO in his place. Ottaway was granted bail at his initial court appearance on January 24.

Bragagnolo had informed the court last month of his intent to have the sexual assault and sexual interference charges against Ottaway brought back to the jurisdiction where they allegedly occurred — namely Niagara. However, no further information on a change of venue was addressed at the July 12 court appearance.