Left with reasonable doubt, B.C. judge finds man not guilty of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend's 8-year-old daughter
A B.C. man has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s daughter nearly a decade ago, when the girl would have been just eight years old.
The reasons are outlined in a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision, which refers to the parties only by their initials to protect the teenage complainant’s privacy.
The daughter, C.M., accused her mother’s ex-boyfriend, C.J.H., of sexually assaulting her on two occasions–something he fully denies.
“I am unable to determine who to believe and am therefore compelled to find that that there is a reasonable doubt,” Justice Jacqueline Hughes wrote in her ruling earlier this month, pointing to inconsistencies in C.M.’s evidence.
The complainant’s mother, E.H., was in a romantic relationship with the accused for nearly a decade until 2014, and had a biological child with him, referred to as O.H.
C.M. testified that C.J.H. “acted in a stepfather role” towards her during that time, the decision reads. But in 2012 or 2013, around Christmas, she alleges C.J.H. sexually assaulted her at E.H.’s home in Aldergrove.
C.M. didn’t report it to police until December 2020, when she was 16 years old.
At 18 years old, C.M. testified in court last month that C.J.H “moved her hand up and down his penis” during one incident. She says he also “licked her vagina” on another occasion around the same time.
The judge noted there were some discrepancies between C.M’s testimony and what she initially told police. She previously alleged that C.J.H. made her give him oral sex, and that both incidents may have occurred on the same day.
In addition, Hughes highlighted that while C.M. could not explain to police how C.J.H made her touch him, she testified at trial that he would call her into the bedroom to play a made-up “bum squeezes” game.
At trial, the Crown argued these inconsistencies were due to the lapse in time and a child’s ability to remember childhood events.
C.M. said the differences between her accounts were due to the fact that her memory improved after years of therapy, according to the decision.
Hughes, however, found that the inconsistencies between accounts of only two incidents were “not merely peripheral or attributable to her young age at the relevant time.”
C.J.H., who is 44 years old, denies ever sexually touching C.M., and testified that he considered “to be like his own daughter.”
The accused suggested in court that the complaints were related to a custody battle over O.H., which has been an issue between E.H. and C.J.H. since 2019.
According to the decision, C.J.H. wants 50 per cent custody of his son, and has not been allowed him to see since last October.
“C.J.H. also notes C.M. was aware of the custody dispute at the time the allegations were made, wanted O.H. to stay with her and E.H., wanted to help E.H. however she could, knew that if convicted C.J.H. would go to jail, and if that happened, E.H. would get custody of O.H.,” Hughes wrote in her decision.
Hughes wrote in her decision that she can’t conclude those factors led C.M. to fabricate allegations against C.J.H., but she also can’t conclude they didn’t.
“This is not to say that I do not believe C.M.; rather, given the inconsistencies in her evidence, I am not confident that I can accept the Crown’s version of events,” the judge wrote.
As a result, Hughes found C.J.H not guilty on both counts.
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