Summary

40039

D.R. v. His Majesty the King

(Newfoundland & Labrador) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party)

Keywords

Criminal law — Evidence — Credibility — Stereotypical reasoning — Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in law in ruling that the trial judge relied upon impermissible stereotypes of victims of sexual abuse when he assessed the complainant’s credibility.

Summary

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(PUBLICATION BAN)

At trial, the appellant was acquitted of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault respecting the complainant, a person under the age of 16 years. A majority of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador allowed the Crown’s appeal and ordered a new trial. It held that the trial judge engaged in impermissible stereotypical reasoning when assessing the complainant’s credibility by relying on the stereotypes that a victim could not be happy to see her abuser regardless of her age and circumstances, and that a victim will exhibit avoidant behaviour around her abuser if she were truly being abused. In dissent, White J.A. would have dismissed the appeal. In his view, the trial judge did not rely on any myth or stereotype about sexual assault when assessing the complainant’s credibility.

Lower Court Rulings

January 6, 2020
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division

201704G0254, 2020 NLSC 1
D.R. acquitted of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault.
January 7, 2022
Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador

202001H0011, 2022 NLCA 2
Appeal allowed and new trial ordered.