June 25th, 2024

Accused found not guilty in sexual assault trial

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 17, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

An Alberta man who adamantly denied during his trial last year that he sexually assaulted his former girlfriend’s young daughter 16 years ago, has been found not guilty.

Judge Gregory Maxwell said Monday in Lethbridge provincial court that, after weighing all the evidence, particularly inconsistencies in the evidence, he could not be sure of Edmond Armit’s guilt, and acquitted him of the charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.

When Danielle Loney, who was only seven or eight at the time of the alleged assaults, testified at the start of Armit’s trial last June, she said she was assaulted mornings and evenings while her mother was at work or at home napping. She said the various assaults happened nearly every day during the 13 months Armit lived with them.

“With respect to the frequency of these incidents, each was described as happening more times than she could count, every day or most mornings,” Maxwell recounted.

Maxwell pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the evidence, however, and pointed out Armit was rarely home in the evenings when Loney’s mother wasn’t home, and he left for work in the morning shortly after she did and before the children were out of bed.

It’s also unlikely Armit would, as alleged, wander the halls of the family’s small apartment naked and assault the girl in her mother’s bedroom or her own bedroom while her younger sister slept on the lower portion of the bunk bed.

The mother testified she was unaware anything was happening between her daughter and Armit and was unable to corroborate her daughter’s testimony about the frequency of the assaults.

“When I complete the assessment of the accused’s evidence of a denial, in connection with the balance of the evidence, I don’t find that I’m in a position where I can simply outright reject it,” Maxwell said. “When the evidence in its entirety leaves you with suspicions, and even if those suspicions are strong suspicions, the fact is you can still be left in a position where you’re simply not sure what to believe, or to put it another way, you are unsure if the evidence is true or false.”

That means, Maxwell added, the court is left with reasonable doubt, and the accused must be acquitted.

“It is simply, in my mind, improbable that these events occurred as often, in the manner and in the locations alleged by the complainant. There were simply too many inconsistencies within (Loney’s) evidence, particularly when considering that evidence in relation to the evidence of her mother and the denial of the accused.”

During Monday’s hearing, Maxwell also vacated a ban prohibiting the publication of Loney’s name, which Loney had requested in September so she could openly share her story.

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