Update: March 22, 2018 — The B.C. Court of Appeal subsequently overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. T.J.B. was acquitted at that second trial.
While the lawyer defending T.J.B. suggested an alleged victim of sexual abuse likes making up stories, the opposing Crown prosecutor argued those tales contain too many graphic details to be false.
It’s now up to B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce to decide if the boy can be believed, following a seven-day trial that wrapped up Wednesday in Penticton.
T.J.B., 23, is charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault in relation to offences alleged to have occurred from June 2011 through August 2012, mostly at T.J.B.’s home in Oliver.
The identity of the alleged victim, now 12, is protected by a routine publication ban.
In his closing arguments, defence counsel Michael Welsh focused on what he termed “major inconsistencies” in the boy’s statements to police and later at a preliminary inquiry and trial.
The boy “likes to tell stories and embellish stores and make stories up because they make him the centre of attention,” said Welsh.
He noted the number of times the child alleged he was abused “ballooned” during proceedings, like first telling policeT.J.B. put his hands down the boy’s shorts once, then telling the trial it was 10 times.
Welsh also pointed out how the boy testified thatT.J.B. had shown him pornography, but then admitted under cross-examination it was a lie.
The way in which the alleged victim delivered his testimony was another issue for Welsh, who noted the boy, appearing via videoconference from elsewhere in the courthouse, made small talk and waved to supporters during breaks in the proceedings.
“He seemed, frankly, to be enjoying testifying,” said Welsh, who did not offer a motive for the child to concoct the broader allegations against T.J.B.
“Sometimes, one can’t explain these things,” the lawyer said.
Crown counsellor Catherine Crockett argued, however, that inconsistencies in the child’s testimony, particularly about things that happened multiple times when he was between the ages of nine and 10, are to be expected.
She also urged the judge not to read anything into the boy’s outgoing manner while testifying.
“It’s quite conceivable that children can respond in a number of ways to events like this in their lives,” said Crockett.
“It’s possible he holds up in court and doesn’t hold up outside court. We don’t know.”
Crockett then keyed in on elements of the boy’s testimony, including graphic details about sex acts, and said it’s “hard to imagine a scenario (in which) a child would think this up themselves.”
“These are simply not things he would know about at that age,” she said.
As for the boy’s lie about T.J.B. showing him pornography, Crockett explained it was related to the child’s attempt to get out of trouble when his mom discovered pornographic material on the boy’s iPod.
“But that’s the only point he was shaken on,” said Crockett.
Justice Bruce reserved her decision until a later date that will be set Oct. 20.