(Note: names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients)
The Case: R. v. Marty D. – Ontario Court of Justice, Barrie
The Facts: Our client was the ex-boyfriend of the complainant. They had a volatile relationship for two years, which ended when she reported him to the police for assaulting her. He pled guilty and later reconnected with her. He spent time with her and her every weekend, which included sex on occasion- what he referred to as “friends with benefits”. He also gave her money, which stopped when he got laid off at work. She was not happy about the money drying up, and the relationship soured. He broke off contact with her and for several days after their last weekend together, he did not return her calls. She went to the police, and claimed that he had raped her that weekend. She told police that when they had resumed their friendship after his conviction for assaulting her, the relationship remained purely platonic and not sexual.
The Defence: The client said that he did have sex with her that last weekend, that it was consensual but that neither of them had really enjoyed the experience. They had been fighting all weekend and he told her that the relationship was over. He showed us text messages from her that made it clear that their relationship had been a sexual one. He had also recorded threats that she had made about reporting him to the police unless he returned her calls and sent her money.
In the majority of cases where a client is accused of sexual assault, especially of rape, the matter goes to trial. That is because the penalties are so severe, including being listed on the sex offender registry. If the case is going to trial, it is usually best to keep the defence evidence hidden until it can be deployed during the cross-examination of the complainant. However, this was one of the rare situations where we felt that the Crown, if presented with some of the damning evidence that we had to suggest that the complainant was trying to extort money from the client, they might actually drop the charges. What made this a particularly difficult decision was that the client had already been convicted of assaulting her in the past, and also that the case arose in Barrie, a hard-line jurisdiction.
The client gave us the green light to proceed with a brief of submissions and evidence in an attempt to persuade the Crown to withdraw the charges. The client provided a lengthy, candid statement to the police, and we disclosed all the evidence that we had to show that he was innocent.
The Result: After a lengthy process of review and consultation, the Crown agreed with our interpretation of the evidence, and withdrew the charges against the client. This is an extremely rare action by the Crown, and a huge victory for the defence. Had he been convicted, Marty M. would have been declared a sex offender and sentenced to the penitentiary. Instead, he was able to resume his life and the chance of a healthier relationship in the future. He also saved a lot of money in legal fees (trials are expensive!).Back
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