Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A failure to immediately and unequivocally deny a vague allegation does not entitle a judge to discount evidence

R. v. J.S.W., 2013 ONCA 593 deals with silence or a failure categorically to deny an allegation - can that be taken as either agreement or at least a weakness in credibility of a later denial?  The Court holds: 

[49]       The appellant was not told where, when, or how the appellant was alleged to have fondled the complainant.  Had the appellant been told the specifics of the allegations, and had the appellant then told the police that he was not sure, or logically could have, rubbed the complainant's chest and vagina and licked her foot when she stayed at her apartment in the year 2006, then clearly his evidence would be suspect and could have been discounted.  However, he was not initially given that information.  To completely discount the entire evidence of an accused because he did not immediately and unequivocally deny a vague allegation constitutes an error of law on the part of the trial judge: Levert, at paras. 27-28.

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