Content warning: this summary includes mentions of sexual assault in the ‘Facts’ section.
This case concerned whether lack of resistance to sexual activity meant consent to that activity.
LEAF intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada.
A 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by her step-father. She did not verbally object to the sexual contact or physically resist. A jury convicted the step-father of sexual assault. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned the conviction, finding that the Crown had not proven that the complainant did not consent to the sexual activity. The Crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
LEAF argued that lack of resistance was not the same as consent. This interpretation was rooted in harmful rape myths. It denied the personhood of sexual assault complainants, and provided the least protection from sexual assault to those most vulnerable to such assault.
The Supreme Court held that there is no requirement for a complainant to say no, and that lack of resistance does not mean consent. As there was enough evidence for the jury to have convicted the step-father, the Supreme Court restored the conviction.
LEAF is grateful to Chantal Tie and Jean Whalen, counsel in this case, as well as Carole Brown, Ottawa agent for LEAF.
Download LEAF’s factum here.
Read the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision here.
Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].