Canada Saskatoon couple acquitted of sexually assaulting 16-year-old girl

10:52  02 december  2017
10:52  02 december  2017 Source:   Star Phoenix

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The jury has begun deliberations in the trial of a of couple accused of sexually assaulting a 16 - year - old girl . Court reporter Bre McAdam comments on the case.

*Warning: disturbing content. A Saskatoon couple accused of groping and raping a 16 - year - old girl in a Pacific Heights basement is now before a jury in Court of Queen’s Bench. The man and woman are both charged with one count of sexual assault in connection with alleged incidents between June 19

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The Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a Saskatoon couple sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in a basement where they had been partying earlier that morning, a jury ruled.

Jurors deliberated for two and a half hours on Friday afternoon before reaching the not guilty verdicts following the couple’s sexual assault trial in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench.

The acquitted couple mouthed the words “thank you” to jurors as they left the room. They hugged and cried after Justice Richard Danyliuk told them they were free to go.

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The man and woman, both 45, were accused of engaging in sex acts with a drunk 16-year-old girl on June 20, 2015.

The evidence is clear that the girl was drinking that night, but her level of intoxication was disputed throughout the trial.

While 16 is the legal age of consent in Canada, Crown prosecutor Rochelle Wempe argued the complainant was too drunk to give consent.

The girl testified she had been drinking and socializing with a group of adults, including her uncle and the couple — who she had met for the first time that night.

She said she started blacking in and out and awoke to the man raping her while the woman held her down on a couch in her basement. The girl testified she said “no” and “stop” because it hurt.

This recollection was consistent throughout the girl’s police interviews and court testimonies. However, during cross-examination at trial, her story included sex acts with the female accused. The complainant admitted previously lying while under oath when she said there was no sexual contact between her and the woman.

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The complainant isn’t credible and shouldn’t be believed, defence lawyers Rylund Hunter and Jane Basinski told the jury. Wempe said the girl was trying to tell the full truth by including details she was previously too embarrassed to disclose.

An accused is not required to testify, but the man and woman each took the stand to tell their version of events.

They said they were drinking in the girl’s basement that night, but denied having any sexual contact with the complainant when they briefly returned to the house later that morning to retrieve a bottle of vodka.

The couple testified they had a domestic dispute over whether to continue partying at another house and left separately from the girl’s home.

Wempe questioned why the girl would make up a sexual assault involving complete strangers and then get a rape kit done the next day.

The doctor who examined her noted a vaginal injury consistent with forced penetration. Hunter reminded jurors that there were other ways that injury could have occurred.

The defence argued there was an overall lack of physical evidence because the complainant did not have any other bruises or marks, and a vaginal swab sent for testing contained only the victim’s DNA.

The now 18-year-old complainant, who lives in Prince Albert, was not in court for the verdict. Jurors cannot present reasons for their decision.

bmcadam@postmedia.com

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