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.
R. v. Goldfinch – A jury shouldn’t have heard that an accused person and a complainant in a sexual assault case were “friends with benefits,” the Supreme Court has ruled: https://t.co/Heag9XWUfO #criminallaw #cdnlaw pic.twitter.com/QxbMEdWxpQ
— Supreme Court of Canada (@SCC_eng) June 28, 2019
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