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Sexual assault convictions against former B.C. hospital X-ray technician overturned

Alleged victim says it’s a “slap on the face”
Statue of Lady Justice. (Black Press files)

An alleged victim of a former Maple Ridge hospital X-ray technician who was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2020 is angry a re-trial will no longer be taking place after the technician’s convictions were overturned.

Crown Counsel decided not to go ahead with a re-trial for Allen James Brooks, who was an X-ray technician at Ridge Meadows Hospital between 1990 and 2016, after, the agency said, further information was received by the prosecutor about the file.

“After reviewing this information and the rest of the file materials, the prosecutor concluded the charge assessment standard could no longer be met. In these circumstances, not proceeding with the re-trial was the appropriate course of action,” explained Ann Seymour, acting communications counsel for the BC Prosecution Service, (BCPS).

The Court of Appeal overturned the convictions against Brooks.

A publication ban has been imposed upon the identification of complainants in this case, but one of the women, who will be identified in this story as Laura, is outraged.

Laura said she was willing to go back to court and “stand up again against him on my own.” But she found out about two months ago that prosecutors were not going to proceed.

She called it a “slap in the face” to her and other women who come forward.

“No wonder we don’t go up against the courts and men because they make us feel that we are not worthy,” she said.

On Oct. 26, 2020, Allen James Brooks was convicted of sexually assaulting two patients while performing X-rays. He was initially charged with sexually assaulting three patients – one in 1990, another in 1997, and the third in 2001.

However, he was acquitted on the third count of sexual assault. A fourth complainant did come forward but Brooks was not charged in that alleged incident.

Following his conviction, he appealed the judgement, on the basis that the trial judged erred by allowing “similar fact evidence” from the fourth complainant.

“Similar fact evidence” is a term, according to The Criminal Notebook, that refers to admissible evidence that demonstrates the person acted in a manner that is consistent with their character. It runs a risk of violating a person’s right to a presumption of innocence by introducing prejudices based on lifestyle, and not based on fact.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge man charged in sexual assault cases dating back 30 years

The fourth complainant was the only alleged victim who said they were sober in the X-ray room. The other three admitted they were under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.

Honourable Madam Justice Bennett agreed with Brooks, and noted in her decision to order a new trial that “a person is not required to defend a case with which he is not charged, except in exceptional circumstances.” And that by allowing the “similar fact evidence” from the fourth complainant, it played a “significant role in the assessment of the credibility” of the two women he was convicted of sexually assaulting.

In reviewing all files, noted Seymour, the BCPS applies the Charge Assessment Guidelines which are in the provincial Crown Counsel Policy Manual and are used to decide whether to start or continue a prosecution.

MORE: New trial ordered for former Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault

Crown Counsel must “independently, objectively, and fairly measure all the available evidence against a two-part test.” They must decide whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction, and, if so, whether the public interest requires a prosecution.

There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, said Seymour.

“The person accused of a crime does not have to prove that he or she did not commit the crime. Rather, the Crown bears the burden of proof from beginning to end. When assessing the strength of the case, the Crown must also consider the likelihood that viable defences will succeed,” Seymour explained.

“This two-part test continues to apply at all stages of the prosecution. If, at any point, the prosecutor concludes that the evidentiary standard is no longer met or that a prosecution is no longer required in the public interest, a prosecution cannot proceed.

“In this case, the prosecutor concluded the test was no longer met, and appropriately decided not to proceed with the retrial of this matter,” added Seymour.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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