Calgary lawyer faces charges of sexual assault, lewd act and harassment

A Calgary lawyer who represented women who were sexually harassed and abused by RCMP officers has been charged with sexual assault, public indecency and harassment, CBC News has learned.

Patrick Higgerty, 66, who also served as a justice of the peace in Alberta, has two upcoming trials scheduled for 2024.

“Given his history, it is a complicated matter and requires a lot of preparation and research,” Higgerty’s lawyer Alain Hepner said in a brief statement.

A timeline

The alleged sexual assaults occurred in 2018 and 2019.

The criminal charges were filed in 2023, just months after his law firm fell into receivership amid allegations that an employee embezzled more than $400,000 from clients’ trust funds.

Back in 2019, RCMP reached a $100 million settlement in a class action lawsuit involving women who had experienced sexual harassment and assault as civilian RCMP employees.

While working on the case, Higgerty is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he knew.

The dates of the crime listed in court documents indicate that the alleged assaults occurred in 2018 and 2019.

Harassment allegations

Higgerty also faces two charges of committing an indecent act in public on the same dates.

A trial on these allegations is scheduled to take place in September.

But first, Higgerty will face court in July on molestation charges.

These allegations are related to allegations that Higgerty stalked or harassed the same woman in 2022. A man is also listed in court documents as one of Higgerty’s alleged victims. It is unclear what connection he has to Higgerty or the woman.

Under a guardianship order from the Law Society of Alberta, Higgerty is currently not permitted to practice law in the province.

Money from the trust fund is missing

The order is not related to Higgerty’s criminal charges, but to the demise of his law firm.

Higgerty Law is currently in receivership. The company’s assets are controlled by a court-appointed administrator because an employee of the firm improperly transferred funds from trust accounts.

Last July, Higgerty told a judge that two targeted attacks were responsible for the company’s ruin.

In September 2021, Higgerty was attacked and knocked unconscious outside his home.

Three months later, three men broke into Higgerty’s home with the intention of attacking him, according to an agreed statement of facts submitted as part of Dimetri Marr’s guilty plea.

$1,000 was offered to attack Higgerty

Marr admitted to being one of the intruders.

Details of the crime emerge from an Agreed Statement of Facts (ASF) submitted as part of Marr’s plea.

In an interview with police after his arrest, Marr told investigators that he had been offered $1,000 to break into the house and attack Higgerty.

Higgerty was not home at the time, but a family friend was there and was beaten by Marr as the attackers searched the house for the lawyer.

Marr told police he was shown a photo of Higgerty, who he was told was a lawyer.

Victim Impact Statement

According to the ASF, Marr told police he understood that the targeted attack was “intended to send a message to Mr. Higgerty that this was the second targeted attack because Mr. Higgerty did not receive the message after the first.”

The attack, Marr told police, was related to Higgerty’s work.

Marr also revealed he only received half of the amount he was originally offered because Higgerty was not home at the time of the burglary.

In a victim impact statement, Higgerty described the “devastating” impact the two attacks had on him and his family.

The attacks, he said, triggered a “downward spiral” that affected him mentally, physically and financially.

Higgerty said the fallout also led him to trust a friend who offered to help run his law firm.

That friend, Higgerty said, turned out to be a “fraudster” who “embezzled” more than $400,000 in trust funds from clients and orchestrated the Law Society of Alberta’s involvement in appointing a custodian for the firm.

“This disaster would not have occurred if the home invasion had not occurred,” Higgerty wrote.