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Important questions raised by sexual assault charges against high school volunteer

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In 2008, the Tackling Violent Crime Act raised the age of consent for sexual activity in Canada from 14 years to 16 years. As we discussed in a previous post, however, there are exceptions.

For example, if the older person is no more than five years older than a 14- or 15-year-old, then the minor may consent to sexual activity, as long as the parties’ relationship is not one of authority, trust or dependency. The Canadian Criminal Code also recognizes that a 12- or 13-year-old may consent to sexual activity with another minor who is no more than two years older. This kind of exception is known as a “peer group” or “close-in-age” exception.

Depending on the circumstances, allegations of inappropriate sexual activity with a minor could result in various criminal charges. Those might include sexual interference with a minor, sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching, and sexual assault.

In Canada, sexual assault is broadly defined to include any kind of sexual touching of a person without that person’s consent.

All of these matters — age of consent, position of trust or authority, and questions of sexual assault — have come up in a recent criminal case involving a 21-year-old man in Toronto. He was reportedly a volunteer in the athletics department of a North York high school in 2014, and police claim that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl during that time.

The young man has been charged with a single count of sexual interference and six counts of sexual assault.

A report in the Toronto Sun has more details on the case.

If you would like to learn more about defending against charges of sexual assault and sexual interference, then our sexual assault overview is a good place to start.

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