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ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
Judge says sexual assault, harassment not proven beyond a reasonable doubt
John Michael Roberts was found not guilty Monday morning in provincial court in St. John’s of charges of criminal harassment and sexually assaulting a woman with a beer bottle.
In handing down her decision, Judge Jacqueline Brazil said there were a number of issues in the case that called the complainant’s credibility into question.
“A criminal allegation must be proven to a high standard,” Brazil said. “And the Crown failed to meet that standard in this case.”
Roberts, 51, walked out of the courtroom a free man, but his lawyer, Rosellen Sullivan, said his reputation was ruined by the allegations and the high-profile trial, and he now has to rebuild it.
“A criminal allegation must be proven to a high standard. And the Crown failed to meet that standard in this case.” — Judge Jacqueline Brazil
Roberts is a businessman and was a candidate for mayor of Paradise in the last municipal election.
During the trial the court heard the complainant had first gone to the RNC in January 2018, after she had woken up to find her vehicle spray-painted with the words “Two-dollar whore.” Her place of work and her mother’s vehicle had also been spray-painted, and a gas can had been left on her doorstep, she said.
The woman blamed Roberts and claimed he had called her persistently from a blocked caller ID.
The night she claimed Roberts had sexually assaulted her, she said, they had been having consensual sex that ended when he picked up a beer bottle.
In response, Sullivan called four witnesses to testify during the trial, including one of Roberts’ coworkers at a drycleaning shop who described the woman coming to the business to drop off a dress and beginning a heated exchange with Roberts.
The witness testified that Roberts remained calm and told the woman she shouldn’t be there, and then went to the back of the building to get away. The complainant swore at Roberts and told him that she could go wherever she wanted.
Brazil said that incident is one of those that go against the complainant’s credibility. She said the complainant had seen Roberts’ truck in front of the drycleaners and yet she still went inside.
“If you fear a person … why would you want to provoke a response from someone you fear?” the judge said. “The Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the (complainant) feared the accused.”
The judge also noted the defence evidence presented of that incident during the trial basically went unchallenged by the Crown.
Roberts’ neighbour had also testified that late one night he had seen a vehicle matching that of the complainant, with a female driver matching her description, park in the driveway he shared with Roberts. The vehicle’s plate number revealed that the vehicle belonged to the complainant.
Sullivan had told the court these, and other incidents, prove there was no evidence the woman was harassed or fearful of Roberts, and questioned whether a sexual assault with an entire beer bottle was even possible, and with no injuries.
The trial had been held during a number of days in August.