03/14/2013 04:51 EDT | Updated 05/14/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. judge orders brief stay before physiotherapist goes to trial on sex charges

VICTORIA - An "indigent" physiotherapist from Vancouver Island who's been charged with 23 counts of sexual assault against women has won a pause in his court proceedings.

Justice Keith Bracken issued a temporary stay of proceedings against Campbell Crichton because the Duncan, B.C., man can't pay for his own legal defence and needs government help.

Crichton was initially charged with five counts of sexual assault in March 2011, but a court document says more complainants came forward after police put out a press release.

Prosecutors argued Crichton has no right to legal counsel under the charter, and Crichton made poor financial choices and didn't prioritize spending for his defence.

But Bracken says Crichton has proven he is impoverished and would not receive a fair trial if he went unrepresented in court.

No date has been set yet for a trial, but Bracken says he expects proceedings to take six to 10 weeks, will involve 60 witnesses and will likely cost the defendant more than $80,000.