Editor's note: The following story contains disturbing evidence heard in court that could be upsetting for some readers.
A former Barrie man convicted and jailed for a significant fraud three decades ago has been found guilty of a historic sexual assault involving a girl.
Ontario Superior Justice Catriona Verner found the man, now 59, guilty of four counts of sexual assault and not guilty of a fifth charge.
A statutory publication ban prevents the reporting of details related to the girl, who is now a young woman, and also limits what can be reported about the man.
In reviewing the facts of the trial, which ran for three days in December, Verner concluded that she found the victim to be a credible witness and her account of the childhood assaults were corroborated by others to whom she had earlier disclosed. Her evidence, she added, withstood the cross-examination of the defence lawyer, David Wilcox.
On the other hand, the judge found the accused man, who denied the accusations, not to be entirely credible when he provided evidence to the court.
The girl testified the man started sexually touching her in the home they shared with others from about the age of five, not long after two households combined. That touching and other sexual activities occurred regularly over the five years that the girl and the man shared the same home. The girl related the details of six of those encounters when she testified on the witness stand.
In recalling the facts from the trial during her judgment Friday, Verner said the combined household disintegrated after about five years when the girl’s mother found the man had been stealing from her.
The assaults included him rubbing the young child’s vagina over her clothing and reaching under her bathing suit in a pool. The victim testified that later assaults included cunnilingus, attempted forced fellatio and some form of penetration.
Another woman testified that the victim disclosed the sexual assault when they were both children. She provided specific details about the surroundings in the school yard of the elementary school they attended where the conversation took place.
“It stuck with (the witness) for years,” the judge observed.
The girl’s mother testified that the victim, visibly upset and still a child, disclosed inappropriate behaviour without the details to her the year after the household separated.
She also recalled that early on, the man had told her that he accidentally touched the girl inappropriately when he was rubbing the girl’s back and she accepted his explanation that it was unintentional.
While at the police station in 2015 the victim talked to police about the incidents but didn’t pursue charges. She finally decided to make a full statement in 2020 which resulted in the five charges.
The judge found the man’s “blanket denial” of the accusations and his testimony “completely unreliable.”
Verner said she had to decide whether the victim was abused or fabricating the stories — ultimately finding her testimony credible, resulting in the conviction.
“The Crown (lawyer Linsay Weis) has demonstrated there was no single motive to fabricate the allegations,” the judge concluded, adding that she proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the sexual assaults occurred. “I have no faith that (the accused man) was telling the truth.”
A pre-sentence report has been ordered and he court resumes March 10 for sentencing submissions.