An 81-year-old man accused of a 1994 sexual assault made a brief but agonized court appearance nearly 11 months after his arrest.
On Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023, Lawrence Serson appeared in Justice of the Peace Ruth Campbell’s Kingston court by Zoom from Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, where he is incarcerated.
Serson wore a medical mask and spoke with raspy breath when questioned by Campbell.
Campbell asked Serson who his lawyer was, and Serson responded that he did not have a lawyer. He had been represented by David Crowe of Kingston, he explained, but he had fired Crowe and had been unable to retain a new attorney.
Serson said he has had a bad cold and was unable to make phone calls, which was hampering his ability to find a new lawyer. He said he had been trying to call family members, but “I couldn’t get a hold of anybody to get another lawyer.”
Campbell suggested that the duty counsel could reach out to him and help him connect with a new lawyer.
Serson said his “oldest boy” was supposed to be finding him an attorney in Hamilton but that he didn’t know the lawyer’s name. “So I don’t know what’s going on,” he said, repeating that he had not been able to make many phone calls.
Without a name it was hard for duty counsel to help him, said Campbell, who had to repeat herself multiple times to be heard and understood.
Serson became agitated and said, “I’ve had a bad cold for a while. They say I’ve got COVID, but I know I haven’t. But they say I have. They don’t let me out to do nothing, though… so I don’t know what to tell you.”
Serson became weepy, explaining that he didn’t want a Kingston lawyer because he didn’t know any of them. He said his previous lawyer had not “asked me one question… and he never told me nothing.” Serson detailed “waiting and waiting” for sureties for his bail but not hearing back from the lawyer whom, he said, he fired after a missed phone call.
Campbell cut in, telling him he needed to get another lawyer.
Serson broke down in tears and described feeling like he has been losing his mind: “I know that I need [a lawyer]… I am 81 years old, I’m pretty near nuts, my nerves are gone. I’m not feeling well, I’m sick all year… Everything’s going wrong. I just want to die and get out of this life. I hate it.”
Campbell instructed her duty counsel to reach out to Serson at this point, to get something organized for him and get his case moving along, she said.
Serson was arrested by the Kingston Police Major Crime Unit on January 18, 2023, in Hamilton, Ontario.
In a media release, dated Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, police said that in 1994, at the age of 52, Serson was residing in Kingston when he unlawfully gained entry into the residence of a 44-year-old female who lived alone.
“After Serson gained entry into the victim’s apartment he viciously attacked her while she slept. Serson overpowered the victim by confining her before violently sexually assaulting her,” police stated, adding, “Further forensic evidence/DNA was located and this DNA assisted the Major Crime Unit in identifying Serson and ultimately in solving this heinous incident.”
Serson was charged with:
- sexual assault causing bodily harm,
- breaking and entering with intent,
- uttering threats, and
- forcible confinement.
Serson was transported by police to Kingston where, on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, he appeared before a Justice of the Peace and was remanded into custody. According to court records, his case remains in the “bail phase” nearly a year later.
His next appearance is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.