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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No bucks for Ellison park expansion, ministry tells Vernon chamber

Vernon Chamber of Commerce vows to help government connect with potential funding partners to see Chelsea Estate purchased

COVID-19: Vernon fields and courts ready for booking

Local sport organizations will soon be able to get back out on the field for limited activities

$500 fine for Vernon man caught near Coldstream playground

Richard Slobodian, 58, served one night in jail and ordered to pay for breaching probation

House arrest for Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault

Stephen Witvoet to serve 18-month conditional sentencing following July 8 hearing

Kelowna woman fights off nighttime intruder

Kelowna RCMP are investigating a break-and-enter on Richter Street

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Kelowna taxpayers could pay $90K for losses caused by cancelled Memorial Cup

$135,000 would be put aside for a potential bid for a future opportunity to host the tournament

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle on Highway 97 west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Most Read