Judge acquits Gadhia’s client of raping, beating friend

A Toronto man has been acquitted of drugging, raping and beating a female friend, and assaulting two other women during the city’s Pride Week after his lawyer, Roots Gadhia, and the trial judge pointed to gaps in the police investigation.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward M. Morgan noted a lack of forensic evidence from the two apartments where the attacks were alleged to have occurred during a drug- and alcohol-fuelled weekend. He also pointed to the absence of security videos from relevant locales and the non-appearance of independent witnesses to corroborate allegations by the three complainants.

“This case raises a question which legal scholars have been asking for several decades: do complainants fail courts, or do courts fail complainants,” Morgan writes in a judgment dated Oct. 19.

A thorough investigation and analysis could fill in evidentiary gaps in sex assault cases such as these, sparing complainants the burden of carrying the entire weight of the case while respecting the defendant’s presumption of innocence, Morgan adds.

Gadhia, principal at R. Roots Gadhia Criminal Defence Law, argued before the judge only trial that police didn’t bother to thoroughly investigate the case because “they saw my client as a bad man with a criminal record and they were going to rely on him being in custody as a result of these charges,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The judge writes that while Gadhia “may somewhat overstate the point, there is a kernel of truth to her observation.”

Gadhia’s client, who can only be identified as RH because of a publication ban, was charged with assaulting and administering a stupefying substance, cocaine, to a female friend, EP, and on the following day physically assaulting her and her partner, FY, as well as their female friend, KM, during Toronto’s Pride Week in late June 2013.

EP claimed that during a three-hour sexual assault, the accused forced her to ingest so much cocaine she threw up and then he allegedly raped her at his home in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough.

She and her two friends told police that on the following day, he shoved, punched and bit them in the downtown Toronto apartment belonging to one of the women.

But the judge found the three women’s evidence unreliable.

FY was untruthful when she testified and is “unlikely to be truthful whenever she is asked a question,” Morgan writes.

The third complainant, KM, a heroin addict, could not be located so the judge allowed her videotaped police statement, given just days after the alleged assaults, to be admitted into evidence.

However, the judge found that the woman’s police statement cannot be relied upon. She seemed to go in and out of focus, was only semi-coherent and was very confused about crucial matters of time and place, he writes.

So the case essentially turned on the evidence of EP, the alleged rape victim, but the judge found her evidence to be riddled with inconsistencies.

“This is a perturbing case,” Morgan writes. “The Crown has brought three complainants, each of whom in her own way is a difficult and troubled person.”

It was necessary, therefore, for police to provide investigative support for their complaints, Morgan writes.

“To be fair,” police did send the three complainants to hospital for evaluations, including a rape kit for EP, as well as forensic teams to the two apartments where the physical assaults and sexual assault allegedly took place, Morgan writes.

The problem for the Crown is they found very little, the judge adds.

“It is hard to fathom that a forensic team could go through KM’s apartment, where the defendant supposedly slept and was involved in a bloody brawl, and find not a hair, fingerprint or drop of bodily fluid to indicate his presence,” the judge writes.

“Similarly, it is difficult to comprehend how a forensic team could thoroughly investigate the defendant’s apartment, where EP was supposedly raped, threw up, gagged, cried, and made to consume a large quantity of cocaine, without so much as a hair, fingerprint, or drop of bodily fluid to indicate her presence.”

According to EP, after the physical assault, the three beaten and bloodied women regrouped at a nearby restaurant.

But no restaurant employee was produced as a witness at trial, Gadhia says. The judge saw the case for what it was and entered full blown acquittals because too many issues were left hanging in the air, she says.

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