Former chief of Kamloops-area First Nation acquitted on rape, attempted rape charges dating back to 1960s

Ex-chief not guilty of rape

A former chief of a Kamloops-area First Nation was found not guilty Thursday following a trial on charges of rape and attempted rape stemming from allegations from the 1960s.

The 85-year-old man cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban in place to protect the identity of the complainant. He is a former chief of a prominent Kamloops-area First Nation.

The complainant, now a 69-year-old woman, testified that the attacks began while she was asleep. She said she could tell who it was, based in part on his voice.

She said some of the abuse took place while she was working as a babysitter for the man’s family.

The man denied any wrongdoing. He said he was never alone with the complainant and never touched her.

The woman described a rape taking place inside the man’s home on a reserve near Kamloops in 1961. Court heard he did not move into that house until 1963.

“I struggled with my assessment of [the complainant’s] evidence,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan said Thursday in delivering her verdict.

“She was sometimes confused and sometimes defensive, but these things are understandable. … She struck me as a sincere person who genuinely believes what she remembers. The difficulty with it is its reliability.”

The man’s ex-wife also testified, saying she never hired a babysitter — another point Donegan said went against the complainant’s story.

“That she is incorrect on these points undermines the reliability of her evidence,” the judge said.

“In the end, I am left with significant uncertainty about what actually happened.”

The attempted rape was alleged to have taken place years later, in 1966 or 1967, while the complainant hitchhiked to a neighbouring town to watch a hockey game.

The man was acquitted on all counts and left the courthouse with a group of about a half-dozen supporters.

More Kamloops News