Toronto councilor Michael Thompson fires legal team in sex assault case

Toronto city councilor Michael Thompson has fired his legal team from a high-profile law firm, a move that could delay progress in his criminal case, court heard Wednesday.

Thompson is charged with two counts of sexual assault relating to two separate incidents and two complaints that allegedly took place in Ontario cottage country last summer.

In Bracebridge court Wednesday morning, Thompson, councillor for Ward 21 Scarborough Centre, said he was seeking the court’s permission for his lawyers Jennifer Brevorka and Sarah Strban from the Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP to no longer represent him. No reason for the request was provided in the court hearing.

Crown prosecutor Mareike Newhouse did not oppose the request, though she called it “an unfortunate development” as trial dates were expected to be set next week.

“This is obviously going to cause some delays, but we are hoping Mr. Thompson has a plan moving forward and will be in a position to retain the new counsel very shortly,” she said.

Thompson told the court he was “in the midst of seeking new counsel” and should have a new lawyer in a week or two.

Ontario Court Justice Raymond Williams granted Thompson’s application to remove Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP as his listed legal representation.

The next lawyer Thompson hires will be his third since being charged. He was initially represented by defense lawyer Calvin Barry, but Barry quickly stepped down, citing their close personal friendship.

The Ontario Provincial Police arrested Thompson on Sept. 29, 2022 and charged him with assaults that occurred separately on July 3, 2022 and July 4, 2022 in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

Thompson has denied the allegation.

The case returns to court on May 17 for an update.

Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Reach her via email: [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati

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