At Penticton’s courthouse, a B.C. Supreme Court has rendered a not-guilty verdict for a man accused of a string of sexual assaults on a minor in 2011 and 2012. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

UPDATED: Man found not guilty of sex assaults on South Okanagan minor

The alleged incidents were reported to have occurred between 2011 and 2012

**This article contains graphic content that may not be suitable or comfortable for some readers.**

Emotions were palpable in a Penticton courtroom, as man accused of sexual assault on a minor and sexual exploitation has been found not guilty.

The trial for the man, who can only be referred to as T.B. due to a publication ban, ran the duration of last week, and covered a string of alleged incidents from 2011 to 2012.

In her decision, Justice Alison Beames said she found too many inconsistencies in the evidence presented by the now-15-year-old alleged victim.

Related: Man accused of sex with young boy awaiting verdict

“There is no question that the close relationship between the accused and the complainant, a child 11 years younger than him, was unusually close,” Beames said.

“The extent of the relationship, even to the extent admitted by the accused, is at least enough to raise suspicions. However, as I have already said, the Crown must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Suspicions are not enough.

“Having reviewed all of the evidence, more than once, I will say, I have concluded that I cannot be sure what happened. I do not know who to believe. That means that the Crown has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I do have a reasonable doubt.”

Related: Accused denies boy’s sex assault claims

As Beames said she found T.B. not guilty, numerous members of the complainant’s family let out exasperated sighs, and stormed out of the courtroom.

Walking out of the courtroom, the boy’s mother was heard yelling “Are you f—-ing kidding me?”

In her decision, Beames made note of a 1991 Supreme Court of Canada decision, R. v. W.(D.), which set the benchmark for trials of sexual assault, in which both the accused and the complainant have testified.

According to the W.(D.) ruling, even if the accused’s testimony is not found to be believable, but if it raises reasonable doubt in the testimony of the complainant, the trial judge must acquit.

Related: Boy details graphic allegations of sex assaults

“If I don’t know who to believe, I must acquit him,” Beames said. “There are genuine concerns with respect to the complainant. He was confronted in cross-examination with numerous inconsistencies.”

Beames said considering the boy’s age and the time between the alleged offences and the trial, the court must take into account that there will be some level of inconsistencies in his testimony.

“But not to the degree that I find exists in this case,” she said, adding she found some inconsistencies between the boy and his mother.

Family members of the boy were visibly upset at the decision in Penticton’s B.C. Supreme Court chambers, and some expressed disdain at comments from defence lawyer Don Skogstad following the hearing.

Related: Publication ban remains on alleged sex offender’s name

“Let’s hope this is the first day this kid can get his life back after six years,” Skogstad said.

In his closing remarks Friday morning, Crown lawyer John Swanson had attempted to dodge inconsistencies in some of the boy’s testimony, including testimony surrounding an iPod T.B. gifted to the boy, by characterizing it as peripheral.

On the main issues — the claims of sexual assault and exploitation — Swanson said the boy was steadfast in his allegations.

But Beames took Skogstad’s view of inconsistencies in the boy’s story to provide some shadow of doubt in T.B.’s guilt, particularly as she noted that T.B. was not confronted with any inconsistencies in his own testimony.

In trial, the boy accused T.B. of instructing him to masturbate him, as well as touching his penis. On one occasion, the boy claimed T.B. ejaculated on his back, and on at least two occasions the boy said T.B. penetrated him anally.

T.B. admitted to sleeping in the same bed as the boy in numerous occasions, as well as buying him gifts, which the Crown characterized as “grooming” behaviour, but denied any sexual contact with the boy.

Prior to the trial, the Western News was one of two publications applying to remove the publication ban on T.B.’s name, arguing the ban would be a detriment to the open court principle and freedom of expression.

However, the defence and Crown both argued in favour of the publication ban, with concerns that the publication of T.B.’s name could lead some to the identity of the underaged complainant.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. Tree Fruits searching for new CEO and CFO

Top job postings at growers’ cooperative listed quietly at the end of November

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Deadline looming for participation in Okanagan Travel Survey

Those who were sent survey questionnaires have until Dec. 18 to complete and return them

Submissions sought for UBC Okanagan’s annual fiction competition

University’s annual short-story contest enters its 21st year

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

Single-bridge option chosen to replace Highway 1 bridge in Sicamous

Five-lane span selected over plan with second bridge at Sicamous’ Main Street

UPDATE: Highway 1 closed east of Revelstoke, expected to open at 7:30 p.m.

Highway 1 is closed east of Revelstoke near the west entrance to… Continue reading

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

Most Read