Crown and defense close trial of retired Whitehorse teacher accused of sexually assaulting student in 1980s
The trial of a retired Whitehorse teacher accused of sexually assaulting a former student in the 1980s ended this week, with the Crown and defense asking the judge to consider two very different versions of events.
The Crown painted a portrait of a teacher abusing his position to take advantage of a disadvantaged and vulnerable girl, while the defense accused the plaintiff of creating a fanciful and disturbing narrative about a consensual relationship.
Paul Deuling faces one count of indecent assault and four counts of sexual assault. He previously faced two counts of indecent assault and three counts of sexual assault, but the Crown elected to pursue the other charges on September 28.
Deuling’s trial, which began Sept. 12, focused on the testimony of his former student, whose name is covered by a publication ban. The woman met Deuling when she was in grade 5 at Jack Hulland Elementary School. He taught or coached her there and at the nearby high school, and was also in contact with her after she attended FH Collins High School.
The woman, on the witness stand, alleged that Deuling would use her to help demonstrate sports games or throws to other students at school and as part of that would stand behind and press against she. She alleged that she could feel his penis against her body.
She also alleged that Deuling sexually assaulted her on several occasions, beginning in her 9th grade when she accused him of kissing her on the lips in his office. The woman also alleged that Deuling pulled her to the ground and sexually assaulted her while they were running in the summer before she started 12th grade, again when they were camping in a remote area that falls , then repeatedly over the course of two years after she left school.
The Crown called nine other witnesses to testify, including the woman’s ex-mothers-in-law and other school employees.
The defense did not call any witnesses. Deuling did not testify.
Woman ‘steadfast’ not to consent, says Crown
In his closing arguments, Crown Attorney Ben Eberhard acknowledged that the only direct evidence of the alleged assaults came from the woman; there were no witnesses to any of the incidents.
However, Eberhard argued that she had proven herself to be a credible witness who was able to recall each alleged assault in detail and was « steadfast » in not consenting to any sexual activity with Deuling.
« She wasn’t shaken on cross-examination…In the end, the truth shines through in her testimony, » Eberhard said.
Eberhard also pointed to what he said was Deuling’s position of power and authority over the woman. The woman was 20 years younger than Deuling and met him as a child with a difficult home life, Eberhard said, and it was not hard to see why the dynamic would have continued even after Deuling stopped teaching her. .
“He was a vulnerable person and Mr. Deuling was in a position … where he exploited a dynamic that had been created over more than seven years,” Eberhard said.
« They were not two people of equal power dealing with each other. »
He added that any lack of resistance on the part of the woman to Deuling’s alleged advances should not be equated with consent, and no ‘adverse’ inference should be drawn from the fact that she did not report the assaults. alleged to the authorities at the time.
While the woman is now an adult, Eberhard added, it’s important to remember that she was testifying to things she had experienced through the eyes of a child, and he argued that any bad memories of « details devices » should not be held too harshly against it. .
Woman ‘lied under oath’, defense claims
Deuling’s lawyer, Richard Fowler, meanwhile claimed it was clear the woman had « lied under oath ». He described the woman’s testimony of severe childhood abuse at home as a « vast body of merely made-up evidence » and something that tainted her evidence.
The woman’s ex-mothers-in-law, allegedly responsible for the abuse, both denied on the witness stand that they harmed her, Fowler said, nor was the abuse corroborated by the testimony of her brothers and sisters.
This was important, Fowler argued, because the woman’s family life « imbues » all of her testimony; she used it to explain how she reacted to Deuling’s alleged advances and assaults, saying she was used to being hurt by adults. Additionally, the woman testified that the first alleged sexual assault occurred on her way to Deuling’s office after her father and stepmother got into a fight and caused her to miss school by distress. Fowler said there is no evidence that this argument takes place.
Fowler reiterated the defense’s position that the woman and Deuling entered into a consensual romantic relationship around her 12th year, arguing that by then Deuling had not taught her for two years and no longer held the same power or authority over it. He pointed to other witnesses who said they saw Deuling and the woman as a « couple » who attended social events together, and argued that it was « just unbelievable » that the woman would visit Deuling’s residence once. times a week for two years « under duress ». . »
“The Crown has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [the relationship] was not consensual, » Fowler said.
Fowler also argued that the woman misremembered dates and details, such as when Deuling first taught her and whether there was clear or « privacy » glass in Deuling’s office. , as evidence of its unreliability.
Yukon Territorial Court Deputy Judge Brian Neal will issue a written verdict in December.