There are various reasons why a victim of sexual abuse might delay in making an allegation of sexual abuse or even not disclose the abuse at all: embarrassment, fear, guilt, a lack of understanding and knowledge, etc.

It is unacceptable for a court to rely on the stereotypical view that victims of sexual aggression are likely to immediately report the acts, and conversely, to conclude that the lack of immediate reporting reflects either absence of assaultive or non-consensual behaviour.

R. v. D. D., 2000 2 S.C.R. 275, at para. 63;

R. v. W. (R.), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 122, at p. 136.

In assessing credibility, the timing of the complaint is simply one circumstance to consider in the context of the case.

Delayed reporting, standing alone, does not assist in evaluating whether an account alleging a consensual sexual encounter is true or raises a reasonable doubt.

R. v. Lacombe, 2019 ONCA 938, at para. 42;

R. v. D.D., 2000 2 S.C.R. 275, at para. 65.

Stuart O’Connell, O’Connell Law Group (All rights reserved to author).