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have You Been Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault?

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Six Common Sexual Assault Allegations

Being unjustly accused of any crime can be incredibly stressful and unsettling. In today’s political climate, being falsely accused of sexual assault can have profound repercussions on various aspects of an individual’s life. A single false accusation of a sexual nature has the potential to impact not just an individual’s legal standing but also their employment, future job prospects, volunteer opportunities, educational pursuits, and even personal relationships, including the ability to spend time with and parent one’s own children in certain situations. Unfortunately, not all investigations are shielded by a publication ban, underscoring the importance of seeking legal advice promptly.

The extent to which a false allegation of sexual assault or misconduct permeates an individual’s life often hinges on the identity of the accuser(s) and the circumstances surrounding the allegations. Regardless of the accuser’s identity or the context, the first step for an individual falsely accused of sexual assault or misconduct should be to consult with qualified legal counsel. Even if the accuser has not yet involved law enforcement, experienced legal representation can help manage the situation, minimizing the damage to the accused individual’s life.

Many individuals wrongly accused of sexual assault or misconduct might assume they don’t need to defend themselves if they are innocent. However, this belief can be a significant error. Even baseless allegations of sexual assault or misconduct can severely impact an individual’s life and reputation.

Apart from seeking immediate legal counsel, those falsely accused of sexual assault should meticulously document every detail. Keeping records of dates, times, and any pertinent information related to the accusations can be crucial in defending against the allegations should the need arise in the future. Beyond these critical steps, the most effective approach to addressing a false accusation of sexual assault or misconduct will largely depend on the accuser’s identity and the circumstances surrounding the accusation.

1. Sexual Misconduct at Work

Accusations of sexual assault in the workplace have become increasingly common, significantly impacting those who find themselves unjustly accused. Typically, accusers initiate these reports by approaching their company’s human resources department, especially in workplaces where policies addressing sexual harassment are in place.

In such situations, the accused employee is often summoned to human resources for discussions about the allegations. In these meetings, employees might unwittingly make statements that could be used against them in the future.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1990 in Ontario, employers are legally obliged to investigate sexual assault or misconduct allegations in the workplace. They must maintain a written sexual violence policy accessible to all employees and conduct thorough investigations, ensuring the safety of the complainant. Employers have flexibility in choosing investigators, either appointing an internal employee, such as a senior manager or human resources personnel, or hiring an external independent investigator. The appointed investigator must be well-versed in the company’s sexual violence policy.

In rare instances where allegations are grave and dissatisfaction arises with the employer’s investigation, the Ministry of Labour might conduct its inquiry. Specialized law Firms focusing on workplace sexual harassment policies can also be employed for impartial investigations. Once the investigation concludes, employers are legally obligated to furnish both the complainant and the accused with written results. Employers must enforce their sexual violence policy, taking action against employees found guilty of workplace sexual misconduct.

However, when an employee is wrongfully accused, an investigation may not always reveal the truth. In some cases, the mere accusation can severely tarnish an individual’s reputation and negatively affect their career, especially if the accused actively participates in the investigation process.

In situations involving criminal charges, accused individuals possess the right to remain silent. Although they might want to explain their perspective, any statements made during an employment investigation can be used against them in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Employers or complainants may choose to report incidents to the police, potentially leading to an arrest.

If you find yourself wrongly accused of sexual assault or misconduct at work, it is crucial to seek legal counsel promptly. Even false accusations can result in severe consequences, such as termination and criminal charges. Our Firm helps guiding individuals through this process, ensuring the allegation does not harm other aspects of their lives.

In 2020, our Firm successfully represented an individual charged with sexual assault in R. v. M.Z. [2020]. The accused, a restaurant owner in Toronto, was accused of assaulting a staff member inside his office. Our Firm took the case to trial and secured an acquittal.

Similarly, in 2018, our Firm represented an individual charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in R. v. S.L. [2018]. The accused, an employee at a restaurant, was alleged to have assaulted a coworker in a restaurant bathroom. We uncovered evidence of a secret affair between the parties and utilized a section 276 application to introduce this evidence at trial. Demonstrating the complainant’s fabrication of the allegations and deletion of pertinent text messages, the charges against the accused were ultimately stayed.

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2. University and College Prosecution

Allegations of sexual misconduct at a college or university can have very serious implications on various aspects of an individual’s life including their ability to continue their education. Additionally, an accusation of sexual misconduct or sexual assault in an educational context, even if false, may result in criminal charges being laid against the accused.

In 2016, the government of Ontario introduced legislation on sexual violence on college and university campuses across the province. Ontario Regulation 131/16: Sexual Violence at Colleges and Universities stipulates that colleges and universities across Ontario must create and implement appropriate policies to address sexual violence and harassment on campus.

The policies must include information regarding support services available to victims, the various accommodations available to victims on campus and how they can be utilized. The policies must inform students that they are not required to make a formal report regarding the incident but may if they wish to. Students must be made aware that they may still access the various support services both on and off campus regardless of whether they file a formal complaint. The policy must inform students of the processes and procedures for filing a formal complaint should the student choose to do so. Finally, the policy must inform students of the processes and procedures associated with the investigative process as well as possible disciplinary actions available.

All of these regulations require colleges and universities to take any and all reports of sexual violence and/or harassment on campus very seriously. This can mean that even false reports are vigorously investigated and prosecuted. Depending on the severity of the alleged incident, a student accused of sexual assault or harassment on campus may be suspended from classes for the duration of the investigation.

In situations where the student has been wrongfully accused, interim consequences such as a suspension can have serious implications on their educational career including loss of tuition funds and a delay in the student graduation date. Even if the student is ultimately cleared of the allegations, any interim consequences can have a lasting effect on the student.

In addition to consequences relating to an accused individual’s education, being wrongfully accused of sexual assault or harassment can result in criminal charges being laid against the accused. Students are often pressured or feel compelled to make a statement to university or college investigators. While someone who has been wrongfully accused may wish to cooperate with the investigation because they feel they have nothing to hide, this is not always the best course of action.

Anything said to a college or university investigator may be used against the accused in a prosecution led by the educational institutional. Additionally, the police may use the statements to file charges against the accused and prosecute them in criminal court.

If you have been accused of sexual misconduct or harassment on campus it is important to contact qualitied and experienced legal counsel immediately. Our Firm can assist you in navigating through the process and ensuring that the allegations do not spread into other aspects of your life. We can assist in drafting a reply to the allegation(s) to ensure your name is cleared.

In the case of R. v. Y.F. [2021], Donich Law represented an individual charged with one count of sexual assault and two counts of assault – choking after allegedly choking a sexual partner without consent. The parties attended university together and the complainant originally reported the incident to the school, resulting in an investigation under the school’s sexual violence policy. Months after the school investigation began, the complainant reported the incident to police, and the accused was arrested and criminally charged. The Firm delayed the school investigation pending the outcome of the criminal case, allowing the accused to complete his degree at the school. Donich Law secured an acquittal on one count of assault and the sexual assault charge at trial, proving that the complainant had fabricated the allegation.

In 2021, the Firm defended a student at Ryerson university accused of sexually assaulting two female classmates on multiple occasions in Case No. xxx34. An investigation was launched after a female student at the school made a complainant to school administration alleging that she had been sexually assaulted be a male classmate. After months of litigation, a friend of the complainant made a similar complaint to school administration, causing a second investigation to be launched. Donich Law ultimately secured the student’s ability to stay at the school and complete his degree after successfully launching an appeal arguing that Ryerson had violated the accused’s procedural rights during their investigation.

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3. Sexual Assault within the Family

Accusations of sexual misconduct or assault within a family can profoundly impact both the accused and the entire family, especially when these accusations are false. Charges such as sexual assault, incest, invitation to sexual touching, or sexual interference can be devastating for the accused individual.

In some situations, false allegations of abuse or sexual misconduct can arise during contentious parental separations. These accusations might be deliberately fabricated or, in some cases, stem from misunderstandings and lack of trust between parents. The accuser may genuinely believe the allegations but could have misunderstood the situation, especially in cases involving young children.

Sexual assault cases, particularly those involving children, are highly complex. Consequently, a significant number of allegations are never proven in criminal court. In these cases, the burden of proof lies with the accuser, making it challenging, particularly when there is little to no physical evidence, a common scenario in sexual assault cases. Additionally, young children might struggle to provide the necessary details of the abuse, making it difficult to convict the accused. While children can often recall their abuse clearly, they may also be susceptible to manipulation by trusted adults, leading to distortions in their memory of the events.

When children are involved, the Children’s Aid Society typically intervenes, conducting their investigation to ensure the safety of the child(ren). If abuse is confirmed or if the child is deemed to be at risk, court proceedings may be initiated to remove the child from the home.

If you find yourself wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct or assault by a family member, it is crucial to protect your rights. The best way to do this is by seeking experienced legal counsel to navigate you through the legal process. Donich Law defends individuals wrongly accused of sexual assault within the family.

Moreover, accusations of sexual assault within the family can also stem from historical incidents. Victims of sexual abuse often take years, even decades, to come forward, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a family member. The Firm has a successful track record in defending such cases, exemplified by their achievements in specific cases:

In 2019, the Firm successfully withdrew invitation to touching and sexual interference charges in R. v. A.E. [2019]. The accused had been arrested and charged based on allegations of sexual abuse dating back to 1985, made by a family member. The Firm utilized various investigative techniques to gather evidence, ultimately proving that the complainant had fabricated the allegations in an attempt to gain control over family finances.

In 2021, the Firm effectively defended an individual facing two counts of sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault in R. v. V.G. [2021]. The accused had been charged based on allegations made by a close family friend, dating back decades to when she was a young child. The Firm litigated the case for over two years, successfully avoiding jail time for the accused.

In 2022, the Firm represented an accused individual in custody, serving a lengthy sentence on different charges in R. v. A.B. [2022]. The accused faced charges of assault with a weapon, assault, assault (choking), cruelty to animals, and sexual assault, stemming from allegations made by his ex-partner about past family abuse. Initially, the Crown sought a significant penitentiary sentence due to the seriousness of the charges. However, after the Firm argued a violation of the accused’s right to a trial within a reasonable time, the Crown significantly reduced their position and withdrew several charges, including sexual assault, recognizing the delay in the legal process.

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4. Criminal Prosecution

Being wrongfully accused of sexual assault or sexual interference can have very serious implications on an individual’s life. In today’s political climate, even those wrongfully accused of sexually based offences often experience an array of negative consequences including employment, education, personal and travel consequences.

In many criminal cases involving sexual allegations, the only evidence offered is often the statement of the alleged victim. This leads to he-said-she-said scenarios where it is the accused’s word against the word of the alleged victim. In these situations, where the allegations being made are false, the accused will often have to fight the allegations at trial. To do this successfully, the defence must convince the Court that the complainant’s version of events is not believable. This is often done by impeaching the complainant as a witness during trial, by pointing out inconsistencies in their testimony.

In the Firm’s R. v. S.T. [2024], a school photographer who was falsely accused of sexual assault and charged with 9 sex offences against 3 separate child complainants. In the high-profile case, the Firm developed a strong theory supported by evidence. The police and prosecution failed to identify the complainants in the video surveillance, and simply provided a data dump to the defence. The defence conducted two pre-trial motions where it successfully acquired evidence form the employer of the accused. This was then used to compare data provided by law enforcement. After approximately 18 months and a contested trial. The Firm defeated every single charge with the accused being fully acquitted at trial.

As with any criminal matter, the best defence will depend largely on the facts of the particular case. The best way to impeach the credibility of a wrongful accuser will vary from case to case. Our Firm has experience defending individuals who have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault and can help you develop the correct strategy to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

In 2021, the Firm successfully represented an individual charged with sexual assault in R. v. D.P. [2021]. The accused was arrested and charged after committing a sexual assault on a friend. The Firm negotiated with Crown counsel for more than two years before ultimately securing a withdrawal of the charge.

In 2021, the Firm successfully represented an individual accused of sexually assaulting his ex-wife in R. v. C.B. [2021]. After conducting an investigation of its own, the Firm uncovered previous false reports made to police by the complainant. The Firm ultimately secured a withdrawal of the sexual assault charge.

In 2018, the Firm represented an accused charged with 11 counts of sexual assault and sexual interference in R. v. Z.C. [2018]. The accused was charged after allegations were made by multiple child complainants, alleging sexual abuse from the accused.

5. Historical Sexual Assault

In Canada, there is no statute of limitations on sexual offences including sexual offences involving children. This means that an individual accused of sexual assault or another form of sexual abuse may be arrested and charged years and even decades after the alleged incident(s) occurred. When historical sexual assault allegations are levied, law enforcement will investigate. Gathering evidence in these cases can be difficult due to the significant amount of time that has passed. If any physical evidence did exist it is likely to have been destroyed. Additionally, the memories of the victim or possible witnesses could have deteriorated so as not to be reliable.

As a result of this lack of evidence, historical sexual assault cases can be both difficult to prosecute and to defend. Many cases become he-said-she-said situations, with the only evidence being the statements of the complainant, the accused, and any witnesses. In these situations, for an accused to be convicted, the Crown must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused committed the crimes as charged.

When defending an individual who has been wrongfully accused of a historical sexual assault, it is important to impeach the credibility of the complainant and any witnesses bolstering the complainant’s version of events. This is done by showing that the complainant and/or witness is not being truthful or does not have a reliable memory of what occurred.

Due to the complicated nature of historical sexual assault cases, it is important to contact experienced legal counsel if you have been wrongfully accused. If you are charged with a historical sexual assault, you can expect specific prohibition orders restricting your contact with children.

In the Firm’s R. v. J.C. [2024], the accused was charged for an alleged sexual assault in the 1970s. The now retired client was confronted with these allegations from when he was a youth. Sexual assault charges do not have a limitation period, which means you can be charged at any time. Over a period of 18 months, the Firm litigated the matter by contesting the evidence, specifically in its very dated form. Eventually, the prosecution fell apparat and the charge was withdrawn by the Crown.

In 2017, the Firm successfully represented an accused charged with sexual interference and sexual assault in R. v. M.M. [2017]. The accused was charged after the complainant alleged that the accused had sexually abused them as a child, more than four decades prior. After three years of litigation, the Firm secured a withdrawal of the charges.

In 2019, the Firm secured a withdrawal of invitation to touching and sexual interference charges in R. v. A.E. [2019]. The accused was arrested and charged after a family member came forth with allegations of sexual abuse dating back to 1985. The Firm deployed various investigative techniques to procure evidence ultimately proving that the complainant had fabricated the allegations in an attempt to gain control over family Monday.

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6. High School Sexual Assault Investigations

Unlike Colleges and Universities, high schools in Ontario are not required to have policies targeting sexual violence and gender violence among their student body. While many high school’s do have policies in place, there are no rules on what those policies must contain.

When a student under the age of 18 reports a sexual assault to a member of staff at their school, that staff member is required to report the incident to the principal of the school. The principal of the school is then required by law to report the incident to the police. This is the called a duty to report. This rule is generally aimed at sexual abuse occurring inside a child’s home but will also apply where the young person reports that they were sexually abused by another student at the school.

Once a report of this nature is made, the school will generally suspend the accused and launch an investigation of their own. This investigation is separate from any investigation the police may conduct. The school’s investigation will include interviewing the complainant as well as any other individuals who may have relevant information regarding the incident.

Once the school has completed their investigation, they will come to a determination about the complainant’s allegation. If they deem the allegation to be truthful, they will determine how to penalize the accused. A school may suspend or expel a student who is found to have sexually assaulted another student. A record of the suspension of expulsion would likely appear on the student’s transcript.

The police will conduct their own independent investigation. This will include interviewing the complainant and any other witnesses with relevant information. The police may request an interview from the accused, though the accused is under no obligation to provide any information to police.

If the police investigation determines that the accused may have committed a criminal offence, they will arrest the individual and charge them. It is not necessary for the complainant to provide any real evidence that the incident occurred. The complainant’s statement to police is enough to warrant an arrest and prosecution. If the accused is under the age of 18, they will be charged as a youth offender and will be prosecuted through the youth court system.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.