FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

WARNING: This article contains graphic details of a sexual encounter.

A B.C. judge has acquitted a teenage boy accused of sexual assault in a ruling issued earlier this month.

The case centres around an incident that took place on May 3, 2019, when both the teenage boy and the girl who accused him were 16 and attending the same high school. The names of all teens involved are undisclosed because they are minors.

Court documents lay out a story that began on April 30, four days prior, with a flurry of text messages from the teenage girl’s phone to the accused’s phone.

“The focus of their Instagram conversations, each day, was on a planned meeting in the school’s handicapped bathroom during their shared C Block class, for the purpose of a sexual encounter,” Justice Patrick Chen stated.

However, the messages were not sent by the complainant alone – she acknowledged that her friends, K.C. and S.W., would use her phone to text the accused.

Chen took issue with the complainant’s credibility. The messages exchanged between the complainant – and her friends and sister on her phone – and the accused were sexually graphic in nature. The judge said the complainant’s testimony showed her “as a person with a cruel and callous disregard for peoples’ feelings and, more significantly, a callous disregard for honesty and the truth,” while it was clear the accused was “infatuated” with her.

“Complainant testified that her sister and her friends were sending messages from her Instagram account to the accused on May 1, 2019 – many of which were highly sexual and graphically explicit – because ‘they wanted to have fun with it’ and that she agreed to give them her phone to do that. Again, she said, ‘I just didn’t care,’” Chen stated.

“If this evidence of the complainant is to be believed, it would appear that she, her sister, and her friends, all had a low opinion of the accused. It would appear that none of them had good intentions towards the accused, from the beginning.”

There were around 2,000 explicit Instagram messages exchanged, of which the complainant submitted about half while the accused kept all of them. The complainant said she only submitted some – and deleted the rest – because they were “not relevant” to the issue.

Chen said that more than 1,000 messages were sent to the accused over the four days “stoking the accused’s fantasies about the complainant and encouraging him to believe that she felt the same way about him.”

He added that judging by the complainant’s own words, “it would appear that the two of them (complainant and her sister) regarded the accused’s infatuation with her as a joke, laughing at him behind his back.”

The complainant testified that she didn’t know why the accused wanted to meet her in the handicapped bathroom on May 3, only that he wanted to ask her a question, and that she had not read the messages her friends and sister had been sending to the accused on her phone, nor his responses.

Chen said he found it “inexplicable” why the complainant did not check her phone to see what the accused wanted to do in the bathroom on May 3.

The complainant told the court that the accused started kissing her and then grabbed her buttocks, as well as escalating the sexual encounter further. She testified that she removed the accused’s hand from her buttocks and told him “no.” She also said the accused briefly touched her breast, at which point she said she felt “disgusted and scared, began to cry and had a panic attack.”

The complainant said that then the accused asked if she wanted to see his penis, to which she said “no,” but that the teenage boy showed it to her it anyway. She testified that she then left.

The accused told the court a different side of the story. According to him, “the complainant was fully engaging” in all sexual behaviours in the bathroom.

In his conclusion, Chen said he had “no confidence in the veracity” of the complainant’s evidence.

“The complainant’s testimony, apart from its implausibility, contains severe and significant internal inconsistencies. I have serious concerns regarding the complainant’s truthfulness. In my view, the complainant’s evidence makes no sense. It does not have the ring of truth or even the air of reality,” Chen stated.

“Accordingly, I find the accused not guilty.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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