Man accused of kidnapping girl makes first court appearance

A man facing kidnapping and sexual assault charges made his first appearance in Prince Albert Provincial Court on July 6.

Charles next court appearance will be by video on July 7. The crown is opposed to his release.

The accused appeared in white, hooded coveralls, and didn’t speak, nodding his head when asked by the judge if he could hear and understand.

Jarrod Charles, 19, was arrested by police at a business in the 2900 block of Second Avenue West around 11:15 p.m. on July 4, a few hours after an amber alert for an eight-year-old girl was cancelled. The girl was taken from a Prince Albert playground.

The identity of the victim is protected under a publication ban.

After what police called “an extensive investigation,” on July 5 Charles was charged with sexual assault, sexual intererence, invitation to sexual touching, kidnapping, abduction of a person under age 14, abandoning a child, criminal negligence and forcible confinement.

The mother of the eight-year-old girl said her “sweetheart … is good.”

“I really want to say thank you to everyone who has offered help, prayers and support,” the girl’s mother wrote in a brief Facebook post.

On July 5, she posted that her daughter was not unsupervised, but was with her grandmother at the time.

“She left just for five minutes to grab a bottle of water. Everyone who knows our family can confirm that we always care and try protect our daughter more than enough!” she wrote.

In a statement issued at the time of the Amber Alert activation, police said the girl was playing at a playground in the Crescent Acres neighbourhood alone. A man, described as having long, shaggy black hair, is said to have entered the playground alone, hanging around for about 15 minutes. The girl is seen leaving the playground, followed by the man.

Police went on to say in the statement that the man is seen taking the girl against the school wall, then grabbing her and putting her in the back seat of his car. The man then climbed in to the front seat of the vehicle and drove away, police said in the statement.

Charles had previously been charged in 2016 with two counts of abduction, which were stayed in December. He was accused of taking two boys in La Ronge on Sept. 28, which led to an Amber Alert. Police received a report about two boys, then 10 and 8, who were missing and believed to be in the company of a man in a silver van.

Crown prosecutor Luke Coupal, who handled the case, on July 4 said in a telephone interview the evidence showed Charles “never abducted” the two boys.

One of the children phoned home to tell his mother he didn’t want to return home, he wanted to stay with Charles, Coupal recalled. The mother told her son no and to return home and the son refused to comply.

“So Jarrod, although he was an adult among the group, he wasn’t abducting the children, he wasn’t taking the children,” Coupal said. They did get into a vehicle and Charles had a driver’s licence, and he suggested to the boys that they visit Charles’ grandmother and play video games, eat chips and drink pop, which they did.

The parents, concerned their children weren’t going to return home, then contacted the police. When the police arrived at Charles’ grandmother’s house, the three were found playing video games, eating chips and drinking pop, Coupal said.

Coupal said a charge of abduction under the Criminal Code requires there be intent to deprive a parent or guardian who has lawful care of that person under the age of 14 of the possession of that person.

“He had no intent to deprive the parent or guardian of the possession of those people,” he said. “He was just hanging out with those kids and he is friends — I mean these are not strangers to him, those three people were friends, they had been friends for a while … This was not like he stole strangers, (or) he abducted strangers. What the evidences shows is that these were three friends that were hanging out together and there’s no evidence that he intended to take these children away from their parents. Without that intent, you can’t be found guilty of abduction.”

–with files from the Saskatoon StarPheonix