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Supreme Court orders new trial over use of sexual history in Edmonton case

Last Updated Jun 28, 2019 at 8:06 am PDT

The Supreme Court of Canada is seen in Ottawa on October 2, 2012. A Supreme Court decision due this morning should clarify the law on how much of the history between a complainant and a person accused in a sexual-assault case can be brought into court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Supreme Court: Edmonton man shouldn't have been able to tell a jury his relationship history with alleged assault victim

Patrick John Goldfinch was charged in 2014 with assaulting a woman he once lived with

Goldfinch was acquitted by a jury

OTTAWA — Canada’s top court says an Edmonton man shouldn’t have been able to tell a jury that he was in a “friends-with-benefits” relationship with an alleged sexual assault victim.

Patrick John Goldfinch was charged in 2014 with assaulting a woman he once lived with, but was acquitted by a jury.

A complainant’s sexual history can’t ordinarily be used as evidence unless it’s directly relevant to the charge.

The trial judge allowed the information over concerns that jurors would have thought the relationship was platonic — a decision that the majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal disagreed with and ordered a new trial.

The Supreme Court of Canada agrees with the Alberta Court of Appeal, and is ordering a new trial.

In a 6-1 ruling this morning, the court says the evidence was only used to suggest that the alleged victim was likely to consent to sex with Goldfinch because she had consented in the past, which isn’t allowed under the “rape-shield” law.

The Canadian Press