Summary

37715

A.R. J.D. v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Publication ban in case)

Keywords

Criminal law - Evidence - Criminal law - Appeals - Sexual assault - Evidence - Behaviour of complainant - Whether Crown raised the necessary question of law as required under s. 676(1)(a) of the Criminal Code - Whether trial judge erred by relying on stereotypical assumptions about how victim of sexual assault would behave.

Summary

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The appellant was acquitted at trial of three sexual offences alleged to have been committed against his stepdaughter: one count of sexual assault (s. 271 of the Criminal Code) and two counts of sexual interference (s. 151 of the Criminal Code). The complainant testified that over a number of years, when she was between the ages of 11 and 16, the appellant touched her sexually numerous times. The appellant denied the allegations.

The Crown appealed the acquittals. The majority in the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, set aside the acquittals and ordered a new trial. It was of the view that the trial judge erred by relying on an impermissible stereotype, or myth, about the behaviour of sexual assault victims in assessing the complainant’s credibility and acquitting the accused. Slatter J.A., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal. In his opinion, the Crown had not shown that the trial judge made the asserted error.