Sex charges stayed against former courthouse sheriff, TV host

·2 min read
Acorn pleaded guilty Monday to unsafe storage of a firearm and was fined $300. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Acorn pleaded guilty Monday to unsafe storage of a firearm and was fined $300. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Sex charges against former cable TV host and courthouse deputy sheriff William (Bill) Vernon Acorn have been stayed, as a result of new evidence that made conviction unlikely, according to the Crown prosecutor.

Acorn, 84, appeared briefly in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown on Monday, for what was to have been the first day of a three-day criminal trial. Ten sex charges and one charge of uttering a death threat -— all connected to one complainant — were stayed.

"Further evidence came to light," said Crown prosecutor John Diamond, outside the courtroom. "On review by the Crown and further discussions with the police, it became apparent that we did not have a reasonable prospect for conviction."

The allegations dated from alleged incidents from 2009 to 2014. The charges included sexual assault and sexual touching of a young person. Charlottetown police laid the charges in the fall of 2019, following an investigation that included interviews with the alleged victim and other witnesses. City police also executed a search warrant on Acorn's home in Charlottetown in July 2019.

Acorn is known for hosting a cable TV show, Bill's Country Jamboree, that ran for 25 years. He worked as a deputy sheriff in the provincial courts on P.E.I. until he retired.

In court Monday, Acorn did plead guilty to one count of unsafe storage of a firearm. Court heard police seized a Smith and Wesson revolver and ammunition during the raid on Acorn's home in July 2019. Diamond told court the handgun had a trigger lock, but was not stored inside a locked storage case as required by law.

'Further evidence came to light.... We did not have a reasonable prospect for conviction,' said Crown prosecutor John Diamond.
'Further evidence came to light.... We did not have a reasonable prospect for conviction,' said Crown prosecutor John Diamond.(Brian Higgins/CBC)

Defence lawyer Brendan Hubley did not dispute the facts, and told court that the defence and Crown jointly recommended a cash fine.

Justice Gregory Cann fined Acorn $300. Cann also ordered the forfeiture of the hand gun and ammunition, and placed Acorn under a weapons prohibition.

Justice officials remain in contact with the complainant. The Crown has the option of resuming prosecution of the sex charges within a year.

"There would need to be sufficient evidence at that time," said Diamond.

"We continue to support and work with Victim Services to ensure this individual gets the proper help that's necessary."

Acorn declined comment after court Monday.

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