Armstrong sexual assault trial delayed

The trial will continue Monday, March 11

Editor’s note: The Crown entered a stay of proceedings on the file. Read more here.

An Armstrong man facing sexual assault charges will have to sit in court a little while longer after his trial was stood down when the complainant was unable to respond under cross-examination for the second day in a row.

The complainant, who first took the stand Tuesday to testify against Joseph Vance Caron, who successfully appealed his 2015 conviction, was recalled Wednesday, March 6.

However, after the first line of questioning from defence counsel Alexander Watt, the complainant sat quietly and was unable to respond to the questions.

“I’m suggesting you were sitting on the bottom step with your legs outstretched, your back against the wall with your head under the rail,” Watt said to no response. “Can you answer the question?”

“We’re going to stand down and see if you’re OK to continue,” Justice Alison Beames said after a long pause. “It’s all right if you can’t.”

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg requested, and was granted, an adjournment until March 11 to allow the complainant time to recover and, should it be necessary, see a doctor about their anxiety. The trial was also stood down Tuesday, March 5, for the same reason.

“(They’re) clearly struggling. I don’t have any impression that it’s something deliberate,” Justice Beames said.

Beames noted that Watt’s line of questioning wasn’t harsh or excessive and that the complainant had exhibited similar symptoms of anxiety under direct questioning by the Crown.

Related: Trial underway for Armstrong man facing sexual assault charges

Watt was opposed to the delay.

“This matter has been going on a very long time,” Watt said. “As difficult as this may be for (the complainant), this is as strenuous for my client.”

In order to uphold Caron’s right to a fair trial, all parties agreed that the conclusion of the cross-examination is paramount.

Caron, born in 1969, was convicted for sexual assault, choking and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm in connection with an incident in Armstrong in May 2014.

Court heard it was raining the night when the complainant, whose name and any identifying information is being withheld to protect their identity, was walking in Armstrong.

The victim sought shelter under the awning of a nearby church and continued to smoke a cigarette when, the Crown said, a man approached.

A conversation ensued and, the complainant alleges, the man sexually assaulted them.

Before court closed Wednesday, the Crown called the trial’s second witness, the partner of the victim at the time of the alleged incident, whose name is being withheld to further protect the identity of the complainant.

“It was longer than usual,” the witness said of the victim’s walk, noting that they had been gone for roughly an hour.

Upon arriving home, the witness said, “(Their) very first words were, ‘I was raped.’

“(They) was distant, closed off, scared to a point I had never seen before.”

Under cross-examination, Watt countered the witness’s recollection of the events and cited the original statement made to police.

“When you gave that statement, you were talking to a police officer?” Watt questioned.

“Yes,” the witness responded.

“And you were trying to tell the truth?”

“Always.”

Watt, however, noted that in the original statement to police, the witness claimed to be “just a little scared.”

The witness countered that they might not have worded it properly in their original statement and that the complainant was truly frightened.

The trial will continue Monday, March 11 at 10 a.m. in Vernon Supreme Court with the cross-examination of the complainant.



parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

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