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When a complainant makes a sexual assault allegation many years after the offence is said to have occurred, the reliability of witness statements and the validity of the prosecution’s evidence quickly come into question. A conviction on a sexual assault charge has extremely serious consequences. To protect their rights and freedom, accused individuals may need legal counsel to draw upon private investigators, technology experts and forensics experts in order to build a strong defence and effectively cross-examine complainants.
All of these issues are brought to mind after the recent arrest of a 71-year-old Toronto man accused of committing sexual offences while employed as a counselor at a group home between 1977 and 1983. In particular, the man is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy during that time. Three counts of indecent assault and three counts of gross indecency have been levelled against the elderly man.
In cases involving allegations that date back many years, matters such as family court documents may factor into the defence. Close analysis of the prosecution’s evidence, including witness statements, is also important. Witnesses’ memories may be foggy or inaccurate, and the value of physical evidence may have been compromised over time.
The strength of a defence tends to rely heavily on the steps taken early in the process. A thorough pretrial investigation is often needed to effectively challenge the prosecution’s claims. Anyone accused of a sexual offence would be wise to seek legal counsel sooner rather than later. Even if the allegations are false, the repercussions can be serious, and a strong criminal defence can help mitigate the negative consequences.
Source: 640toronto.com, “71 Year Old Toronto Man Charged In Historical Sexual Assault Investigation,” Tina Trigiani, Aug. 1, 2014