A Yukon man was found guilty earlier this week of sexually abusing two girls and acquitted on charges related to a third following a judge-alone trial.
The identity of the victims and the complainant are protected by a publication ban. The News is not publishing the man’s name to avoid identifying the victims.
Yukon Territorial Court Judge Peter Chisholm delivered his decision in a Whitehorse courtroom the morning of July 10, finding the man guilty of three counts each of sexual assault and sexual interference in relation to three incidents that took place in Ross River, Carcross and Watson Lake between 2016 and 2017.
The two victims were both under the age of 14 when the crimes occurred.
Chisholm later stayed the sexual assault charges in accordance with the Kienapple principle, which is a rule prohibiting multiple convictions for the same criminal act.
The judge acquitted the man on two counts each of sexual assault and sexual interference. Two of those charges were related to an incident involving a third girl.
The man had pleaded not guilty to all counts and, while testifying in his own defence during the trial, denied touching any of the girls for a sexual purpose and said he was upset by the allegations.
In his decision, Chisholm said while the man had initially testified that he remembered all five incidents clearly, on cross-examination, he admitted that his memory was “foggy” and that he had been drinking alcohol prior to each one.
The three girls also all testified at the trial. While they all knew each other well, Chisholm said, there was “no evidence of collusion” between them.
One of the girls gave detailed testimony of the man inappropriately touching her twice, Chisholm said. One incident occurred in Ross River, the girl testified, where she had been sleeping in a bedroom with the door unlocked when she woke up to the man touching her vaginal area with his foot. The second incident took place in Carcross, where she was also sleeping when she woke up to the man rubbing her thigh over her pyjamas.
The girl also testified about a third incident, but Chisholm acquitted the man on those charges.
Chisholm described another girl who testified as a “compelling witness” who had no motive to fabricate her allegations against the man. She testified that she had been sleeping on a couch at a family member’s home in Watson Lake when the man, who was sleeping on the floor next to the couch, used his hand to start rubbing her leg and vaginal area. The girl said she pushed the man’s hand away but he wouldn’t stop. She later told a family member what happened, and the family member kicked the man out of the house.
Chisholm said he found that the man had touched the third girl with his foot and that the girl was “clearly upset” by the incident, but that the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the touching was sexual in nature. The man briefly touched the girl’s crotch area with his foot while she was sitting on the same bed he was either falling asleep or asleep on, Chisholm said, giving rise to the possibility that the touching may have been unintentional.
A sentencing hearing will be held in Watson Lake at a later date.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org