'Innocent until proven guilty': lawyer for accused in Pitt Meadows rave rape
The lawyer for a young man accused of assaulting a teenage girl at Pitt Meadows rave has characterized police statements about his clients as a witch hunt.
Although Crown stayed a charge of sexual assault against Colton McMorris on Tuesday, RCMP continued to maintain a day later there was evidence to prove otherwise.
At a press conference with the victim of the alleged assault and her father on Wednesday, Sgt. Peter Thiessen bristled at suggestions that police had blown up the alleged assault.
"I can assure you knowing the content of these photos, it was not exaggerated what happen to this girl," said Thiessen, referring to the graphic and sexually explicit photos that spread across the Internet following the rave.
"I would say if anybody heard the details of what this girl experienced, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I can assure you, you will all be shocked by these photos."
Tony Serka, who represents McMorris, stressed his client is being "put through a mill" for something he didn't do.
"This isn't the way to run a state. They are saying things like they are facts," said Serka.
"They are planting the seeds so people can hate my client. If he is innocent - as I believe he is - he is the one that should get sympathy."
Crown entered a stay of proceedings Tuesday effectively bringing criminal proceedings against McMorris to a halt, five days before he was scheduled to stand trial.
The sudden stay came after a senior prosecutor reviewed the available evidence and concluded there was no longer a likelihood of a conviction.
Serka said his client came forward on his own and spoke to police a few days after the rave - without a lawyer present.
The police interrogation generated a transcript that's 119 pages long.
He had two officers yelling at him for sometime, added Serka.
"This is the guy who has never been in trouble in his life, who is honest and he is being painted with this brush for the rest of his life."
A lawyer since the 1970s who is known for two landmark Supreme Court of Canada cases, Serka remains shocked by the conduct of RCMP and the "inflammatory language" they initially used to describe the alleged assault.
"[Sgt.] Peter Thiessen should remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty," said Serka.
"You can't say things like - make no mistake about it, this is a rape when you really don't know. That inflammatory language is for a reason, it's to inflame people."
The "code of silence" police blame for hinder their investigation, Serka completely dismisses.
"It's not a code of silence. It's just that the people who are talking are saying things that the police don't want to hear. Many people don't want to be involved with this."
Serka believes his client should pursue a defamation lawsuit.
"By telling lies - they have branded this guy, they've given him the scarlet letter.
There has got to be some consequences for that. But it's the police and it's a different kettle of fish and they have different rules."