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