Teen complainant said he was 'in love' with Vernon youth worker charged with sexual assault - InfoNews

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Teen complainant said he was 'in love' with Vernon youth worker charged with sexual assault

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May 31, 2019 - 5:25 PM

VERNON - The complainant in a North Okanagan sexual assault case repeatedly stated that he originally downplayed the incidents between he and his careworker to police because he was in love with her and didn't want to get her in trouble.

The complainant, who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged incidents and can't be identified by court order, told a Vernon court May 31, he didn't want to get his 26-year-old care worker in trouble because "I was in love with her."

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Courtenay Simmons picked holes in the complaint's statement to police, as well as earlier court proceedings.

The complainant is alleged to have had a sexual relationship when he was 15-years-old with his youth worker, Tamara Marie Nicholls, born 1991, although no sexual intercourse is alleged to have taken place. Nicholls pled not guilty to charges of sexual assault, sexual interference of a person under 16 and invitation to sexual touching a person under 16. The charges date back to incidents alleged to have occurred in May 2017.

At the Vernon courthouse today, May 31, Crown lawyer Juan O'Quinn agreed with the defence's motion to have the invitation to sexual touching charge dismissed by Justice Joel Groves.

Over three days of the trial in March this year, the court heard how the complainant had met Nicholls while he was living in a North Okanagan care home and she was his care provider. The court heard how the complainant had "boundary issues" and "learning difficulties" and had moved to the care facility after the relationship between him and his mother broke down.

O'Quinn had said there had been kissing, fondling and sexual conversations between the two. All of the alleged intimacy between them is said to have happened over the clothes.

The complainant had earlier told the court how the kissing and touching was consensual and he had “made out” with Nicholls in her staff bedroom.

O'Quinn had presented evidence of Facebook messages between them, although half of the messages presented were deemed inadmissible as evidence. After the Facebook messages had been discovered while the complainant was at school, the police were called and Nicholls ultimately charged.

Today the defence quoted statements made to police by the complainant shortly after the events came to light.

Of five sexual encounters alleged by the complainant, Simmons points out he only mentioned three to police.

"I didn't go and do a full story because I was pissed off and I didn't give a crap about anything," he said adding he had since "turned his life around."

Simmons accused him of lying in court, an allegation he firmly denied.

"I just missed things out," he said.

Simmons continued to find disparities between statements made by the complainant.

"And that's because it didn't happen, did it?" she asked.

"No it happened, but again, I was saying less things to get her in trouble because I was still in love with her and I didn't want her to go to jail, and I still don't."

Simmons read a police statement in which an officer asked the complainant whether Nichols had flirted with him.

"Has she been kind of flirty back? A little bit or no?" Simmons read out. "And your response is, 'not really, it's hard to say... she didn't let me do anything, didn't mean I didn't try but got it shut down. That's the truth isn't it?" 

"I was trying to get Ms. Nichols not in so much trouble because I was in love with her," he says.

"You tried to do things with Ms. Nicholls but she told you no."

"The only part she said no to was trying to put my hands down her pants," he said.

"You understand that a woman not saying no doesn't necessarily mean they are agreeing to engage in the activity," Simmons said.

"That's true yes... but that would be if I was forcing her wouldn't it? I would have to be intimidating her for her not to be able to say no, which I couldn't see how I [would] be able to do," he replied.

Simmons told the court the defence would not be presenting any evidence.

The case will be back in court June 14.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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