Ontario’s top court has thrown out sexual-assault convictions against a man accused of abusing his five-year-old cousin, in the latest case in which trial judges have been criticized for applying unfair legal standards to accused male perpetrators.
In this case, as in previous ones, the Ontario Court of Appeal points to an overemphasis on believing the victim, which has the effect of making the accused demonstrate his innocence, and runs counter to a central principle of the criminal-justice system – that the prosecution bears the burden of proving guilt. It also challenges a view among sexual-assault crisis centres and others that victims are too often not believed.
Women’s advocates say that when appellate courts toss out convictions in sexual-assault cases, it deters victims from coming forward to police.
Source: Globe and Mail (article available in English only)