Three men accused of sexual assault on a 20-year-old woman found not guilty
Three men accused of repeated sexual assaults on a 20-year-old woman over a six-hour period March 24, 2011 were found not guilty by a Supreme Court Justice on Thursday. In her oral reasons for judgment, Madam Justice Sandra Ballance focused on the credibility of the complainant. After a review of the evidence at trial including a summary of the testimony of key witnesses in the case, statements made to police, toxicology reports and her own view of the complainant's version of events as told to the court, Ballance said that she found "[the complainant's] evidence as a whole leaves me with reasonable doubt as to what occurred." She then addressed Adam Boyd, Albert Piche and Julian Niskakoski directly, telling them she found them "not guilty on all [four] counts." Boyd, Piche and Niskakoski were originally charged with two counts of sexual assault with weapon/threats/bodily harm, assault, unlawful confinement and administering a noxious substance with intent to endanger. But at the end of a week-long trial held in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George in March, Crown counsel Cassandra Mayfair withdrew the charge of unlawful confinement. On Thursday, the men were clearly both elated and relieved with the not guilty verdict. All three were visibly overcome with emotion. The complainant was not present in the court room to hear the verdict. In reaching her decision, Ballance found she found text messages made by the complainant to one of the accused men the day after the alleged attacks "are of deep concern to this court." She further said, "the complainant did not give a believable explanation for any of these texts." "Further troubling" she said was a reported incident in Port Alberni where the complainant awoke in the bushes and told police she'd been attacked but did not follow up the complaint. It was her response in that matter that "further tainted her credibility" noted Ballance. The judge said she allowed for small inconsistencies in the woman's version of events as told to police, an attending physician and her friends shortly after the alleged attacks. She also took into consideration the fact the complainant was "highly intoxicated" and had admitted to snorting cocaine and ingesting a few drinks (vodka soda and tequila) the night of the alleged incidents. But Ballance said in the end, what the complainant told the court under oath, her "material inconsistencies" and her lack of disclosure about her drug use to police investigators, to Dr. Bryne and others involved in the case caused her concern.