Supreme Court

Criminal Law

Offences against the person and reputation

Sexual assault

Trial judge erred in relying on impermissible stereotype about behaviour of sexual assault victims

Complainant alleged that step-father touched her in sexual manner when she was between ages of 11 and 16. Trial judge found that complainant did not show behaviour consistent with abuse such as avoiding accused, and acquitted accused. Crown’s appeal was allowed and new trial was ordered. Appeal court held that trial judge erred in relying on impermissible stereotype or myth about behaviour of sexual assault victims when assessing complainant’s credibility. Accused appealed. Appeal dismissed. Trial judge committed error of law in assessing complainant’s credibility solely on correspondence between her behaviour and expected behaviour of stereotypical victim of sexual assault.

R. v. A.R.J.D. (2018), 2018 CarswellAlta 252, 2018 CarswellAlta 253, 2018 SCC 6, 2018 CSC 6, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Gascon J., Côté J., and Brown J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2017), 2017 CarswellAlta 1272, 2017 ABCA 237, Marina Paperny J.A., Frans Slatter J.A., and Frederica Schutz J.A. (Alta. C.A.).

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