Judge questions evidence of complainant, accused, police in Dawson City sexual assault trial

A Yukon territorial court judge found a Dawson man not guilty of sexual assault, citing inconsistencies in the evidence both the complainant and the accused gave during trial.

A Yukon territorial court judge found a Dawson man not guilty of sexual assault, citing inconsistencies in the evidence both the complainant and the accused gave during trial.

In a written judgment released Feb. 8, Judge Heino Lilles also criticized the RCMP’s handling of the investigation.

The accused, the complainant and the complainant’s sister all testified during trial. A publication ban prohibits publishing any information that would identify the complainant, which includes the names of her sister and the accused man.

The charge stems from a night in November 2015 when the three were drinking at the Westminster Hotel, also known as the Pit, in Dawson City. The accused was at the time the partner of the complainant’s sister.

They had all started drinking early that Friday before going to the bar.

Each witness’s evidence of what happened after that differed.

The complainant said she had been drugged at the Pit, “presumably to explain her behaviour, her incomplete recall of the events of that evening, and why the bartender refused to serve her,” Lilles wrote.

The complainant testified she didn’t remember leaving the bar but remembered waking up in her bed.

The accused started to undress, she testified, and she told him to leave. She said she tried to move but her body was “frozen.”

The accused forced himself on her three times before running away from her room as her sister arrived home, the complainant testified.

The complainant’s sister told the court she was upset that night because the accused and the complainant were dancing together at the bar and she felt left out.

When she heard her sister and the accused had left together by the back door “she rushed home, apparently suspicious that something was going on between (the complainant) and (the accused),” Lilles wrote.

When she arrived home, the complainant’s sister saw the accused “dash out” of her sister’s bedroom. She testified she pulled the blanket off her sister, who was naked, and yelled at her, but her sister didn’t say anything.

Lilles wrote the complainant testified she denied having sex with the accused to which her sister said, “Two people I love the most in my life (I) caught cheating.”

The accused testified he danced with the complainant that night at the bar and that she was “dancing provocatively with him.”

He testified there was “ongoing mutual physical contact” when they walked home and that she called him to her bedroom.

He told the court there was consensual kissing and fondling and that the two cuddled. When his partner got home he testified she yelled “You had better not be doing what I think you are doing,” and he ran to his room.

The judge said he didn’t believe the accused’s claim that nothing besides kissing and fondling happened.

“It could serve to minimize the serious of the sexual assault or alternatively, it is an attempt to recover his relationship with (the complainant’s sister) and his children by positing that sexual intercourse had not taken place.”

Lilles also zeroed in on the police’s handling of the investigation.

Two RCMP officers interviewed the complainant in the presence of her sister. One of the officers acknowledged during the trial it was “neither her usual practice nor best practice,” Lilles wrote.

That only became problematic because the complainant’s sister was a witness too.

“As a result of the conflicting evidence presented at the trial, in hindsight, it was very poor practice,” Lilles wrote.

He also noted that despite the fact the complainant went to see a doctor three days after the alleged assault — at the suggestion of police — no evidence from that examination was filed in court.

“Apparently no effort was made by the police to speak to the doctor or to subpoena the medical records relating to these samples,” Lilles wrote.

While inconsistencies in testimony are to be expected because of the amount of alcohol involved that night, Lilles wrote, the judge said he had concerns with the complainant’s evidence.

She wasn’t able to recall any interactions with the accused at the bar but provided many details about her bedroom and herself as the accused came into her room.

Lilles also questioned why she didn’t tell her doctor about the sexual assault when she came in to take samples related to her suspicion she was drugged. She had an “apparent motive,” he wrote, to claim she didn’t consent to the sexual activity.

“Her explanation that she did not consent would place her in a better light with her parents and could also serve to recover or improve her relationship with her sister,” Lilles wrote.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read