June 12th, 2024

Local webcaster charged with criminal harassment

By COLLIN GALLANT on March 18, 2022.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Local web broadcaster Tom Fougere has been charged with criminal harassment of a Medicine Hat firefighter who Fougere claims assaulted him by touching his camera at the site of house fire last December.

First appearance on the charge, laid earlier this month, took place Wednesday morning in Medicine Hat Provincial Court where it was adjourned to early next month.

Fougere told the News on Thursday he plans to fight the charge which he says stems from his actions while collecting information to bring criminal court action against the firefighter.

“I’ll plead not guilty and go through the whole process of a trial unless the charges are dropped completely,” said Fougere, a well-known social media commentator who ran for mayor in 2017.

He said Thursday “it all relates” to an incident between the two men during which, Fougere says, the on-duty firefighter tried to remove him from the scene and touched his camera in an attempt to stop him from filming.

After filing a police complaint that resulted in no charges, Fougere said he decided to pursue the unusual step of filing an application directly to Crown prosecutors (known as a “private information”) to reconsider possible criminal charges.

That was filed Thursday, he said.

While preparing that application, Fougere said he contacted the man directly looking to verify required information, then sought it from the city’s human resources department, and travelled to verify the man’s address in Dunmore.

Redcliff RCMP laid the harassment charge which stemmed from a complaint made to them on Feb. 16.

The complainant is apparently the same Medicine Hat Fire Service officer at the centre of several of Fougere’s reports since Dec. 10, 2021.

That night Fougere posted cellphone footage with commentary at the scene of a fire near N. Railway Street following major operations to extinguish the blaze.

In it, a firefighter approaches him, then after some discussion, asks to see identification or a business card to prove Fougere is a member of the media.

Fougere objects and after some commotion verbally accuses the firefighter of assault for grabbing his camera.

The video ends with Fougere filming himself filing a complaint at the Medicine Hat police station. That was closed with no charges laid, though Fougere is not satisfied with that result.

“The investigating officer was wrong in his findings,” said Fougere.

Conviction on a charge of criminal harassment can lead to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the most serious, or “indictable” offences, but cases that proceed in a summary fashion come with a variety of penalties, including a simple peace bond.

Court documents show an initial election of prosecutors to proceed in a hybrid manner, though initial elections often change or become better defined as matters proceed.

 

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct information on a secondary point of the complex story.

The subject of the article, Thomas Fougere, claims the News has miscategorized an incident that took place between him and a local firefighter on Dec. 10.

That incident is not the subject of any current criminal or civil action at this point, though Fougere says he has directly applied to Crown prosecutors to bring criminal charges for, in his words, “grabbing” his camera at the scene of a house fire.

In the article, the News describes a video of the incident posted by the web broadcaster, stating it shows the firefighter initially asking Fougere to leave before an apparent altercation.

A rewatching shows the man asking why Fougere is there, then to prove he is a member of the media by presenting identification or a business card before the commotion breaks out.

Fougere claims that further telephone interactions with that man – the complainant in the current court case – were attempts to gather information to convince prosecutors to bring an assault charge against the firefighter.

Fougere’s case was adjourned at first appearance.

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