Man acquitted of sex crimes

An Oliver man was found not guilty of three sex crimes against a minor in Penticton court Monday.

The man, who can only be identified as TB due to a publication ban, was acquitted by Justice Alison Beames due to inconsistencies in the evidence of the now 15-year-old complainant.

“I cannot be sure what happened, I do not know who to believe. That means the Crown has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said, provoking exasperated gasps and tears from the family of the alleged victim in the gallery.

Beames said the relationship between TB (age 20 at the time of the allegations) and the complainant (age 9), was undoubtedly “unusual” and enough to raise suspicions.

It began after the accused’s father died in a 2011 car crash, and the complainant's mother began visiting the widow, bringing her child along.

The accused lived in the basement of his mother's house, the two became friends and were seen in public together at the movies, waterpark and ski hill.

TB has always denied anything sexual ever took place. The court heard he approached the police to give his side of the story shortly he heard a rumour circulating through the small community that he had molested the boy.

He was acquitted of sexual interference of a person under 16, invitation to sexual touching under 16 and sexual assault in connection to incidents that were alleged to have occurred in 2011 and 2012.

“Let's hope this is the first day this kid can get his life back after six years,” defence lawyer Don Skogstad said to reporters on his way out of the courtroom after the verdict.

“His life?!” shrieked a family member of the complainant standing in the hallway.

TB declined to comment while leaving out the back door of the courthouse.

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