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Multiple sexual assault, kidnapping charges laid after rural property searched east of Calgary

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

A 59-year-old Alberta man has been charged with multiple offences in relation to incidents where he allegedly targeted women who worked in the sex trade in Calgary.

Between December 2021 and March 2023, police said at least three women were approached by a man on 19 Avenue S.E. in Forest Lawn, where the women were allegedly drugged, taken to a rural property east of the city, and physically and sexually assaulted.

The charges come after police had been searching for a number of days at an acreage located about 16 kilometres east of Chestermere, Alta., on Vale View Road in Rocky View County.

Richard Robert Mantha of Rocky View County, is charged with the following:

  • One count of kidnapping.
  • Two counts of forcible confinement.
  • Two counts of administering a noxious thing.
  • One count of sexual assault.
  • Two counts of sexual assault with a weapon.
  • One count of sexual assault causing bodily harm.
  • One count of assault with a weapon.
  • Two counts of uttering threats.
  • One count of pointing a firearm.
  • Three outstanding warrants for sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm and failure to attend court.

“Over the past several weeks, this investigation has evolved rapidly,” Acting Staff Sgt. Shelby Stewart with CPS District 4 General Investigations Unit said in a statement.

A police vehicle is parked on a yard.
Police have been searching a rural property 16 kilometres east of Chestermere, Alta., where tenant Richard Robert Mantha faces a series of charges, including sexual assault, forcible confinement and kidnapping. (Helen Pike/CBC)

“We are grateful to the victims who have come forward and trusted us with this investigation and ask anyone else with information to contact police.”

‘Who knows where it will take us’

Officers first descended on the property on Thursday at around 8 a.m., focusing on a shed behind the home.

They executed a search warrant and took Mantha, who is a tenant of the property, into custody. The search represents the culmination of a months-long investigation, police said.

A mobile command vehicle was parked in front of a house on the property. Over the weekend, flood lights were installed by police on the perimeter of the property, and a blue tent was set up in the back.

Multiple police vehicles and a blue tent are pictured.
Police set up a tent while collecting evidence from the property. (Tom Ross/CBC)

The search of the property is expected to be completed on Tuesday and police say the investigation remains ongoing. None of the charges have been proven in court. 

In a press conference on Monday, police said the search could be expanded to other properties and they are examining previous missing persons cases. 

The police homicide unit, forensic officers and cadaver dogs were used throughout the search, police said.

“Who knows where it will take us,” Superintendent Cliff O’Brien told reporters of the investigation. “I don’t want to rule anything out.” 

More charges could be forthcoming, he added. 

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.

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