South Okanagan man acquitted of sex-related charges involving young boy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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South Okanagan man acquitted of sex-related charges involving young boy

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December 04, 2017 - 11:16 AM

PENTICTON - An Oliver man has been found not guilty of several sex offences against a minor child.

Justice Alison Beames found the man not guilty today, Dec. 4, in Supreme Court in Penticton of sexual touching under 16, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault.

The week long trial of the man, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, ended Friday, Dec. 1.

The charges were in relation to a series of incidents that allegedly occurred between June 2011 and August 2012, when the complainant was nine years old and the accused was 20 years old.

The incidents were alleged to have happened during overnight sleepovers at the accused’s home.

Judge Beames said in rendering her decision there were too many inconsistencies in the complainant's testimony, creating reasonable doubt as to what really happened.

She said Crown Prosecutor John Swanson could have produced more evidence to make their argument more compelling, noting phone records and photographs corroborating evidence given could have been produced in evidence.

The judge also noted the accused had provided at least two statements to police without legal counsel, one of them made a month before the complainant went to police.

“There is no question that the close relationship between the accused and the complainant, a child 11 years younger than him was unusually close, and that the extent of the relationship, even to the extent admitted by the accused, is enough to raise suspicions. However, as I have already said, the Crown must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Suspicions are not enough,” Beames said.

“Having reviewed the evidence more than once I have concluded I cannot be sure what happened,” she concluded, declaring a verdict of not guilty.

“This is the first day this kid can get his life back after six years,” the accused's defence lawyer Don Skogstad said.

Several family and friends of the complainant were visibly upset by the decision.

The accused offered no comment.

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