A Dartmouth man charged after allegedly hurling a sexual slur at a female CTV Atlantic reporter as she was broadcasting live from a bar chose not to attend his arraignment Thursday.
Lawyer Ron Pizzo appeared in Halifax provincial court on behalf of Nash John Francis Gracie, 25, who faces charges of public mischief and causing a disturbance.
Pizzo said colleague Joel Pink will be representing Gracie.
He said he received a disclosure package from the Crown recently but asked for time for Pink to review the evidence and discuss it with his client.
Judge Amy Sakalauskas scheduled the case to return to court April 20 for pleas.
Butts tweeted: “Something offensive was said to me and it went on the air.”
The Crown is proceeding summarily on the charges, which means the maximum penalty is six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The charges are also eligible for the province’s Restorative Justice Program.
The incident allegedly happened Dec. 29 during CTV’s 6 p.m. newscast as Heather Butts was doing a live remote from the Pint Public House in downtown Halifax, where fans were watching a world junior hockey championship game.
A man came up behind Butts, made a crude gesture and yelled a sexually explicit phrase commonly abbreviated to FHITP. Butts turned around and continued her report without acknowledging what the man had done.
Later that evening, Butts tweeted: “Something offensive was said to me and it went on the air.”
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Halifax Regional Police launched an investigation into the incident and laid charges against Gracie in mid-January.
Several journalists have expressed support for Butts, saying this represents a broader problem of harassment of female television reporters and videographers, often involving the graphic phrase.
Last week, a man stood trial in St. John’s on a charge of causing a disturbance for yelling the phrase at a female reporter last April. The judge acquitted the man, ruling the Crown did not prove that his behaviour caused a disturbance.
The man admitted he yelled the phrase at an NTV reporter while she was taping an interview outside the St. John’s dump.
The judge said the phrase was vulgar and offensive but was not a crime under the circumstances.
With The Canadian Press