Penticton Law Courts B.C. Supreme Court chambers on Main Street.                                Dustin Godfrey/Western News file photo

Penticton Law Courts B.C. Supreme Court chambers on Main Street. Dustin Godfrey/Western News file photo

Princeton man acquitted of rape, guilty of forcible confinement, assault

Judge finds alcohol made victim and accused unreliable witnesses on matter of consent

A Princeton man has been acquitted of sexual assault but found guilty of forcible confinement and assault against his ex-girlfriend more than two months following his trial.

The man, referred to as D.W. to protect the identity of the victim, conceded on the confinement and assault charges after he was pressed on the matters in his own testimony by Crown counsel. Justice Nathan Smith delivered his verdict on the sexual assault charge Thursday morning, following a trial that ran three days at the end of March.

The allegations surrounded an incident on Nov. 11, 2016 at D.W.’s house. Prior to meeting up, the victim had repeatedly and steadfastly rebuffed sexual advances in a text message conversation.

Related: Princeton man concedes assault, forcible confinement

The victim and D.W. offered two different views of largely the same events. Both agreed that intercourse had occurred on the floor that night and that D.W. had forcibly kept the victim from leaving his house, and caused injury to her lip.

When deciding he-said-she-said cases, judges follow a case termed R. v W.(D.). Even if an accused’s story is not to be believed, if it casts reasonable doubt on the complainant’s testimony then the accused must be acquitted.

Smith said he did not believe D.W.’s testimony on Thursday, but did find reasonable doubt, despite acknowledging that the victim arrived at his house without consenting to sex.

Related: Testimony closes on trial over Princeton rape allegations

“After arriving at (D.W.)’s house, she remained for several hours before the sexual activity occurred. During that time, both consumed alcohol and cocaine, which raises questions about the reliability of both of their recollections,” Smith said.

Smith also pointed to expert testimony, which noted bruising on her inner thigh consistent with forcing her legs open, but the expert could not comment on the age of the bruise. Further injury to her genitals were not conclusive, which Smith noted “does not rule out force.”

D.W. and the victim had previously been in a relationship, which ended in May 2016. The victim said the relationship ended because the victim said D.W. became “weird, jealous and paranoid,” though the two did occasionally see each other.

Related: Trial begins for Princeton man accused of raping ex-partner

The night of Nov. 11, through text messages, the victim sought cocaine from D.W., who made repeated sexual advances that were consistently refuted by the victim.

She later declined to come to D.W.’s house, because “every time I do, you hurt me,” and “I don’t feel safe around you.” D.W. had replied: “I’m not going to touch you.”

The victim did ultimately end up at D.W.’s house that night. Contrary to the victim’s reasoning of searching through a former roommate’s belongings at D.W.’s place for some of her own items, Smith believed she went to D.W.’s house for cocaine.

D.W. testified that the two had sex, but the victim became angry after the cocaine was finished and asked to leave.

The victim steadfastly testified the two never had consensual sex that night, and that D.W. at one point grew angry and accused her of having another boyfriend, calling her a “whore” — something that was consistent with previous behaviour.

The victim said she tried to leave, but D.W. chased her back and forth between two different doors and blocked her from exiting the house.

The victim testified that D.W. had grabbed her in a bear hug and after the two fell to the floor he pulled down her pants and underwear and raped her. That was also when the victim said she had sustained the injury to her lip.

D.W. admitted to blocking her from leaving, but said it was because he didn’t want her making noise outside and waking the neighbours.

That led to his concession on the forcible confinement and assault charges. Smith said that testimony “makes little sense,” also not believing D.W. attempted to minimize the force he used to keep her from leaving, due to the injury to her lip.

“Having said that, on the crucial issue of consent, I cannot say his evidence fails to raise a reasonable doubt in the context of all of the evidence,” Smith said. “In particular, as I have said, cocaine and alcohol consumption makes recollection of both the complainant and (D.W.) unreliable.”

The court will reconvene on July 23 to fix a date for sentencing likely sometime in August, as a pre-sentence report is prepared.

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