Nor­man’s Bay man found not guilty of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing sis­ters

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL -

A Nor­man’s Bay man has been found not guilty of two counts of sex­ual as­sault and ob­struc­tion in Happy Val­leyGoose Bay court.

The man, who can­not be named to pro­tect the iden­tity of the vic­tim, was ac­cused of as­sault­ing two sis­ters, one in 1991 and the other in 2014. The ob­struc­tion charge was re­lated to him al­legedly of­fer­ing the women money to drop the charges.

Jus­tice Ge­orge Mur­phy is­sued a writ­ten de­ci­sion on the case on Feb. 20 to give his ra­tio­nale for the not guilty ver­dicts.

In both cases, the only wit­nesses to the al­leged as­saults were the com­plainants and the only wit­ness for the de­fense was the ac­cused, named in the de­ci­sion as Mr. T.

One of the women tes­ti­fied Mr. T. as­saulted her at a cabin owned by her par­ents in the Nor­man Bay area in 2014. She al­leged he groped her twice while she was ly­ing down and she tried to push him off her both times but was not able to do so. She also tes­ti­fied that when he was com­mit­ting the al­leged as­saults she said, “No, no.”

Mr. T tes­ti­fied he re­mem­bered the al­leged vic­tim had been in Nor­man Bay on the week­end in ques­tion be­cause he had seen her when she had come over on the ferry. He de­nied be­ing at the cabin or hav­ing any phys­i­cal con­tact with her.

The other woman tes­ti­fied about an in­ci­dent she said hap­pened in the early fall of 1991 when her and some friends were play­ing a game of Hide­and-Seek in a place near Nor­man Bay called Johnny’s Cove. She tes­ti­fied that dur­ing the course of the game she de­cided to hide un­der­neath a com­mu­nity shed and that she walked and crawled in un­der the shed and laid on a beam. She in­di­cated that while she was there Mr. T. came in un­der the shed and pro­ceeded to touch her left but­tock and ca­ress it. She said this in­ci­dent could not have lasted more than a minute at which time Mr. T. sim­ply left.

She re­ported the in­ci­dent in 2014 and when asked why she waited so long, she gave a num­ber of rea­sons in­clud­ing the fact that she felt it was im­por­tant to step for­ward to sup­port her sis­ter who had dis­closed to her what she al­leged had hap­pened to her in­volv­ing Mr. T. She said that she had not pre­vi­ously dis­cussed the in­ci­dent from 1991 with her sis­ter.

Mr. T de­nied this claim and said there was no beam un­der the shed as she had de­scribed.

He was also charged with a breach of an un­der­tak­ing that in­cluded a con­di­tion that Mr. T. not have any con­tact or com­mu­ni­ca­tion what­so­ever with the ini­tial com­plainant or her chil­dren.

That charge and the ob­struc­tion of jus­tice charge re­late to a call placed by Mr. T. to one of the sis­ters. She said that Mr. T. wanted her to talk to her sis­ter and of­fer money for her to drop the charges. She did, in fact, go and speak to her sis­ter about the phone call and a few days later Mr. T. called her back and she told him her sis­ter was not pre­pared to drop the charges.

She said she had told the po­lice about the in­ci­dent about two to five weeks af­ter it had oc­curred but when her state­ment show­ing dif­fer­ent was shown to her, she said she was mis­taken.

Mr. T ad­mit­ted he had placed two calls to the woman to talk to her about her sis­ter but said he of­fer any money or any­thing else for her to drop the charges. He said he called her back a few days later to see what her sis­ter had said.

He sug­gested on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions that the al­le­ga­tions against him were all an at­tempt to get money by the sis­ters.

Mur­phy pointed out in his de­ci­sion that is was es­sen­tially a mat­ter of cred­i­bil­ity since there was no ev­i­dence other than tes­ti­mony from the three peo­ple in­volved.

“Sim­ply be­cause all of the charges come down to a com­plainant’s word against the word of an ac­cused does not mean that an ac­cused can­not be found guilty of such charges or cer­tain of them,” he wrote. “In­stead the de­ter­mi­na­tion of guilty or not guilty comes down to an as­sess­ment of the ev­i­dence to de­ter­mine whether it meets the req­ui­site stan­dard of proof.”

Mur­phy said while he didn’t find the ac­cused to be com­pelling he also didn’t find any is­sue with his cred­i­bil­ity. He said that even if it was likely the ac­cused had com­mit­ted the crimes he wasn’t con­vinced the Crown met its bur­den of prov­ing the ex­is­tence of each of the es­sen­tial el­e­ments of ei­ther of the of­fences be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.

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