Xeni Gwet’in chief Jimmy Lulua (left) with former chief Roger William (right) and his wife Shannon Stump (centre) Tuesday afternoon after William was acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

VIDEO: Former B.C. First Nations chief acquitted of sexual interference

Former Xeni Gwet’in chief Roger William said he’s relieved to have his name cleared

Former B.C. First Nations chief and current Cariboo Regional District director Roger William has been acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16 after a two-day trial in Williams Lake Provincial Court which ended Tuesday.

William, 53, was facing the charge in connection with an allegation said to have occurred on May 12, 2017.

Outside the courthouse William said he was very relieved about the verdict.

“It has been a long journey,” he told the Tribune. “I was worried about my family, my children, my people, my nation. This is bigger than me. I’ve been a big part of the Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal Title Win in 2014 and to be in this, it’s been so tough.”

Related: Tsilhqot’in celebrate rights and title anniversary

William said he was still thinking about the complainant.

“She is having a tough time and she was a bright young lady. I’m not to sure why she did what she did and said what she said, but I’m so happy for the decision.”

The trial began Monday and saw the complainant testify by closed-circuit television from another room. William defended himself and his wife, Shannon Stump, also appeared as a witness for the defense.

In reading out her decision Tuesday afternoon, Justice Jodie Werier said it would be unsafe for her to convict William.

“He adamantly denied sexual touching,” Werier said of William’s testimony. “I find it would be unsafe for me to file a conviction based on the evidence of the complainant.”

Werier said the complainant’s description of the alleged sexual touching on the upper thigh and inner thigh at the movie theatre and again later that evening lacked detail and the detail that was provided was unacceptable to rely on.

When asked if the alleged touching by William on the complainant’s chest went on for a long time or one movement, the complainant could not remember, Werier added.

Defense lawyer David Rosenberg, who has represented William through the rights and title cases, said he was not surprised by the outcome.

“Roger’s waited a long time to be vindicated and this day has been a long-time coming,” Rosenberg said. “I’m glad to see the system works and justice was done in this circumstance.”

Rosenberg said it takes a lifetime to build up a reputation such as William has and all it takes is for an allegation to destroy all that.

“I’m glad he’s been vindicated and I’m hopeful he will get on with his life in a very constructive way.”

When William was charged, the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) announced he was being relieved of his duties with the TNG awaiting the outcome of the judicial process. William has, however, continued to represent Area J/West Chilcotin throughout the process.

Related: B.C Supreme Court clears path for Taseko Mines Ltd. to start exploratory drilling in Teztan Biny area

William remained on as chief of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation until February 2018, but lost the election for chief to Jimmy Lulua, who was on hand for the verdict.

There is a publication ban on any details that could identify the complainant.

Just Posted

Fall is in the air, check out how to embrace the chill in Kelowna

We have compiled Fall worthy activities to fill those long chilly nights

The Rockets lost to their rivals in the regular season opener

The Kelowna Rockets fell 4-1 to the Kamloops Blazers in Kamloops on… Continue reading

Great news for Indigenous youth program in BC

The federal government came through with over $1 million in funding for Indigenous youth program

Telephone poles placed in centre of sidewalk angers West Kelowna watchdog

Audience Group calls placement of poles in new Boucherie Road upgrade project ‘idiocy’

Kelowna asking public to help update its Cultural Plan

Second survey this year to posted to gather public input about cultural programs and services

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only seven of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Kelowna cyclist plant-based to victory

Sonya Looney is one of the keynote speakers at Sunday’s Okanagan Health Forum on plant power

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Most Read