CALGARY — The Crown has stayed a sexual assault charge against prominent Calgary chef and restaurant owner Michael Noble because there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction.
Police alleged that Noble followed an employee into a bathroom during a downtown Calgary social gathering in January of last year and sexually assaulted her. He pleaded not guilty and a trial had been scheduled for next month.
"Circumstances have significantly changed over time and the existence of a reasonable likelihood of conviction no longer exists in this case," Alberta Justice spokeswoman Katherine Thompson said in a statement Friday.
"As such, the Crown had an obligation to terminate the prosecution."
She said the decision to report sexual assault is deeply personal and can be extremely difficult.
"The survivors who come forward should be commended for their bravery. Crown prosecutors treat sexual assault cases with the utmost care and compassion."
Jennifer Ruttan, Noble's lawyer, said her client was pleased the charge has been stayed.
"Mr. Noble has been confident since entering a not guilty plea on his first court appearance that the court would properly dispose of the accusation against him," she said in a statement.
"The Crown decision to stay the prosecution supports his confidence in the criminal justice system."
She said Noble is seeking privacy as he tries to "move forward and put this incredibly difficult and public ordeal behind him."
The stay halts the legal process for the case but the Crown could lift the stay within one year.
Noble is known for running well-known Calgary restaurants The Nash and Notable.
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press