SELECTED CASE LAW
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR:
In 2019 NLCA 33, Mr. L, a 44 year old man, appealed his convictions of sexual interference, sexual exploitation and sexual assault of his stepdaughter, Ms. B, when she was between 15 and 18 years old. The appeal was dismissed.
Ms. B, who was 21 years old at trial, was allowed to testify via a CCTV. The court stated: “It is important that other persons in the position of this complainant see that there are avenues available for testifying that do not require the witness to be subjected to any more trauma than re-living the offences will occasion.”
Ms. B had confronted Mr. L about having a hidden camera set up in her bedroom closet positioned to film her naked getting out of the shower. During this confrontation Mr. L learned that Ms. B had sexual contact with his half-brother. He told Ms. B not to tell her mother or else it would break down their family. At a later date he got Ms. B drunk and engaged with Ms. B sexually. Sexual contact occurred on a regular basis for several years after that. It was often used in exchange for things that Ms. B wanted or needed, such as time out with friends or a new bicycle. When Ms. B tried to stop the contact, he would treat her poorly until she complied to sex again. After Mr. L’s relationship with Ms. B’s mother ended, he tried to continue contact with her. He pretended to be dying, made harassing phone calls, contacted them over social media, and threatened suicide in order to access the two.
Mr. L claimed that Ms. B had made up the assault and was reporting him because he had contacted a male the Ms. B was talking to over social media when she was 18 years old. Ms. B had been “sexting” with another man and sending him sexual photos. Mr. L messaged the man telling him the communication was inappropriate. Ms. B was upset that Mr. L sent the messages.
At trial he was convicted of the offences and was sentenced to six years in jail. The court noted that persistent sexual assaults involving children should receive “mid to upper single digit” sentences. Additional orders included a DNA order, lifetime registration as a sex offender, a life-time firearm ban, and prohibitions from being near Ms. B.
The appeal of his conviction was dismissed. The appeal court found that the trial judge had not misapprehended any evidence, that the guilty verdicts were reasonable, that the judge had taken adequate note of a conversation Mr. L had surreptitiously recorded of Ms. B about him secretly filming her, and that the judge had made a mistake when taking judicial notice that cell phone companies don’t store text messages, but that the mistake wasn’t serious enough to effect the outcome. Ms. B had deleted text messages that may have been relevant evidence, stating she “didn’t want to look at them anymore”, which the judge was aware of but it did not affect her credibility.
An appeal of his sentence was also dismissed.
Also see: 2019 NBCA 12 (Appeal); 2018 NLCA 75 (Bail); 2018 NLSC 150 (Sentence); 2018 NLSC 48 (Trial); 2018 NLSC 35 (CCTV application).
2018 NLSC 35 at para 14.
Criminal Offence(s): Sexual Assault