The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Canada’s top court orders new trial over ‘friends with benefits’ claim in sex assault case

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

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.

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.

ALSO READ: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

In a 6-1 ruling this morning, the court says 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.

The Canadian Press

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