June 28, 2019 10:44 am

Supreme Court orders new trial over use of sexual history in Edmonton case

The Supreme Court of Canada is seen in Ottawa on October 2, 2012.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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Canada’s top court says an Edmonton man shouldn’t have been able to tell a jury that he was in a “friends-with-benefits” relationship with an alleged sexual assault victim.

Patrick John Goldfinch was charged in 2014 with assaulting a woman he once lived with, but was acquitted by a jury.

A complainant’s sexual history can’t ordinarily be used as evidence unless it’s directly relevant to the charge.

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READ MORE: How much does it cost to be a victim of sexual assault?

The trial judge allowed the information over concerns that jurors would have thought the relationship was platonic — a decision that the majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal disagreed with and ordered a new trial.

The Supreme Court of Canada agrees with the Alberta Court of Appeal, and is ordering a new trial.

In a 6-1 ruling Friday morning, the court said the evidence was only used to suggest that the alleged victim was likely to consent to sex with Goldfinch because she had consented in the past, which isn’t allowed under the “rape-shield” law.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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