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Yellowknife

Aggravated assault charge against former deputy minister is stayed


A criminal charge against a former senior territorial government official has been stayed by the Crown.

Willard Hagen was to face a preliminary inquiry on Wednesday to test allegations that he stabbed a man almost one year ago. However, Crown prosecutor Nakita McFadden entered a stay of proceedings.

That means the count of aggravated assault is effectively dropped, although the Crown has one year to reconsider.

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No details explaining the Crown’s decision were forthcoming. The stay of proceedings was first reported by the CBC.

Hagen, in his early seventies, is a former president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council. He was also once chair of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

He is a bush pilot and founder of Aklak Air.

He resigned his position as deputy minister of the territorial government’s Department of Lands in September 2019, one he had held since 2016.

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The resignation came after Hagen used highly charged language in an inflammatory social media post aimed at MLA Kevin O’Reilly. It came during the NWT general election, with O’Reilly seeking re-election in the Frame Lake constituency.

In April last year, Cabin Radio reported court documents showing Hagen faced a charge of aggravated assault dating to an incident on February 28, 2020.

In July, the CBC further reported details from a search warrant suggesting RCMP saw medics attending to a man in front of the Royal Bank on Franklin Avenue that day. The 51-year old had suffered a stab wound to his abdomen and a cut on his wrist. A police tracking dog led RCMP to a 53 Street home, where they found a trail of blood droplets along the path to the front door.

When they knocked, Hagen came to the door, according to information provided by police to obtain a search warrant. He was said to have told police he had been sleeping. Several coats were seen in the entranceway. Police later seized evidence from inside the residence.

None of the information provided to obtain the warrant was tested in court.

Hagen was subsequently charged and released on bail in March. He has consistently maintained his innocence.

Cabin Radio contacted Hagen for comment. He had not responded by the time of publication. 

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