A University of Lethbridge professor has been found not guilty of sexual assault, after he had pleaded guilty for the crime.

The Court Ruling

Nicholas Hanson, a 28-year-old professor at the University of Lethbridge has been found not guilty of sexual assault against a graduate student. This came after he had pleaded guilty on Thursday.

Hersh Wolch, Hanson’s Lawyer said: “Intoxication played a heavy role in this.” He also noted that his client hasn’t consumed a single alcoholic drink since that night.

“He was desperately trying to talk about his stress and anxiety while he was severely intoxicated, and he did what many of us do, he reached out and grabbed somebody to get their attention. It’s something we do, and technically it’s an assault.” Wolch stated.

“He’s been stigmatized, his family has been hurt by it. His wife left her job, the children, particularly the older one, was subjected to taunts and things like that. He’s been ridiculed and shunned by good friends – or allegedly good friends – and it’s been a very, very difficult time he’s had to endure.”

He also pointed out that while Hanson has been discharged, the topic is not something that will disappear anytime soon for him.

“It’ll be absolute in six months, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t access it. In sensitive jobs, you can access those kinds of things. And people can be very harsh, those who don’t know all the facts can leap to judgement, always in a negative way, and it can be an impediment,” said Wolch.

“I see people with acquittals who have problems. It’s been a tremendous life changer for a man who was probably the most popular prof in the school.”

The Incident

The attack Hanson has been accused of happened at an art gathering at the Drama department of the university. Several artists as well as graduate students attended the event.

The 22-year-old victim, who remains anonymous, said that Hanson had started talking to her and her friend about his depression and anxiety. Later, when the event moved to a private residence, the victim said that she had walked around the residence with Hanson, and later realized that she was in a room alone with him. She said he then locked the door and asked her not to leave.

He proceeded to talk about his depression and started undressing her. She victim quickly pulled her dress back up and ran out. When she reportedly confronted him about it later, he said he couldn’t remember because of all the alcohol, but profusely apologized and told her he would start going to therapy.

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