Accused testifies at trial

The Oliver man facing charges in a sexual assault case took the witness stand in a Penticton courtroom on Thursday afternoon.

A 23-year-old man identified as TJB is facing charges including sexual interference of a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching under 16 and sexual assault, spoke for a brief period before court adjourned for the day.

Defence lawyer Michael Welsh first took him through a description of the family home in Oliver, before asking about his relationship with the alleged victim.

TJB said after the funeral for his father, who died in June of 2011, he went to visit family in Invermere and Vancouver.

It was after they returned that the family of the alleged victim would come to visit and provide support.

It usually ended up with everyone upstairs or the kids downstairs watching a movie, he recalled.

The first time the boy in the family stayed over was October of 2011. The two were downstairs watching a movie, and the boy asked if he could spend the night to finish watching it.

On that occasion, TJB slept on a couch while the boy slept on a bed, he testified.

When asked about the nature of the relationship, he said it was just as a friend.

It was his understanding, he recalled, that not only was he going through a tough time, the boy was also upset about his parents' separation and his dad was dying.

There was another sleepover in November, where TJB again slept on the conch and the boy in the bed, he said.

TJB's testimony is expected to continue on Friday.

Earlier on Thursday, Welsh asked the boy's father, a witness during the trial, if he was a member of the Hells Angels or a supporter.

The witness then asked about the relevancy of the question.

After Justice Catherine Bruce asked a similar question, Welsh said that this was relevant to the trial and would come up later.

An adjournment then followed so that crown counsel Catherine Crockett and Welsh could discuss the matter.

When the trial resumed, the father said he was a Hells Angels supporter and that he had also sold marijuana when he was younger but had not used drugs or alcohol for years.

During earlier testimony, the father described seeing his son go from being an open extrovert to being a complete shelled off introvert during his relationship with TJB.

It was after the relationship ended that he saw a change in his son, that he had an aura of relief, content.

The boy's mother testified Thursday that she too observed her son becoming more withdrawn during the time he spent with TJB.

It was after an incident between TJB and his mother, that the boy's mother put the brakes on the relationship.

The boy has been supported throughout the trial by a group known as the Urban Bulldogs Against Kids Abuse. Members of the Edmonton chapter were at the courthouse to show the boy he is not alone and to help take the fear away.

**this story has been modified to comply with a court ordered publication ban

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