Despite finding the alleged victim credible, and not believing the testimony of the accused, a BC Supreme Court justice has acquitted a former coach and youth leader in Chilliwack for the sexual touching of an underage boy.
It was an emotional scene in courtroom 201 as Justice Thomas Crabtree read his decision in the case of Codie Anderson.
The courtroom was filled with about a dozen supporters of Anderson, and half a dozen family members of the alleged victim, along with the now 21-year-old accuser himself.
In hearing Crabtree’s finding of reasonable doubt, the victim’s mother broke down in tears and stormed out of the courtroom.
Justice Crabtree went to great lengths in the multi-hour oral decision to explain the nuances of reasonable doubt, along with the differences between credibility and reliability.
“The court is left with a reasonable doubt,” Crabtree said in conclusion. “In this case I wish to note, that raising a reasonable doubt is not deciding in any way that the events did not happen.”
Anderson – who went by Hindle at the time – was charged with one count of sexual interference under 16.
The victim was the son of a friend of Anderson’s, and the alleged touching took place during a sleepover at the victim’s house as early as 2007 and as late as 2011.
The now 21-year-old complainant, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, spent hours on the stand early on in the trial, recounting the touching of genitals that he said took place in his own house on three occasions.
Justice Crabtree found his testimony to be credible, but questioned the reliability of some of it. There was uncertainty on the exact timelines, some details about what exactly took place, and questions over why he didn’t disclose the touching to police when Anderson was first accused of touching by another young boy.
As for Anderson’s testimony, Crabtree gave it almost no weight.
“The contradictions and inconsistencies from Mr. Anderson raise concerns such that I’m not able to believe his testimony.”
In rendering his decision, Crabtree also weighed in on the testimony of two other young men who alleged touching for a sexual purpose by Anderson when they were boys, one on a camping trip, the other on a sanctioned sleepover event at the Cheam Centre.
In the case of the latter, he said he found the testimony unreliable and he found it unlikely Anderson touched that boy. In the instance on the camping trip, Crabtree was convinced.
“I find it likely the defendant touched [the boy] in the matter described by him.”
Still, it was explained why conviction beyond a reasonable doubt is a high bar in our criminal justice system, and the unreliability of the young man’s testimony about the alleged incident was enough for reasonable doubt.
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