Judge worries mom coached sex assault testimony

Dean Pritchard, Dean Pritchard QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:50 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba man has been acquitted of repeatedly sexually assaulting his young stepdaughter after a judge said she could not rule out suggestions the girl's mother had coached her to lie.

"In all, I simply can't be sure as to what was going on with this family," Justice Karen Simonsen said in a 21-page written ruling delivered Tuesday.

"When I consider the evidence as a whole, I am left with uncertainty as to whether the accused committed the alleged acts and I have a real doubt as to whether the complainant was reporting the allegations at the behest of, or under the persuasive influence of her mother," Simonsen said.

The man stood trial accused of assaulting the girl on repeated occasions between 2009 and 2011, beginning when the girl was two years old.

He denied confessing to the allegations and argued the girl's mother had coerced her daughter into lying about the assaults so she could end her relationship with him. The man alleged the woman had previously threatened to move away with their children if he couldn't come up with the money to provide for them.

During a police video statement, the girl described certain allegations only after taking a bathroom break with her mother, Simonsen said. Under cross-examination the girl admitted her mother had spoken to her "15 or 20 times" about what to say in court and that the two of them "had secrets."


Videos

Photos