A Saskatoon businessman is waiting for a verdict after his trial on charges of sexual assault and sexual interference wrapped up on Thursday.
Nowshad Ali is facing the charges based on allegations from a woman, now 21, who says he touched her inappropriately on two occasions in 2005, when she was 10. At the time, Ali and his wife were babysitting the girl.
Details that could identify the alleged victim in this case are subject to a publication ban.
Court heard closing arguments from defence lawyer Ron Piché and Crown prosecutor Barbara Herder.
Piché attacked the Crown’s case, noting they had no direct witnesses to the alleged touching and no physical evidence that it happened.
While he took pains to say he wasn’t trying to suggest the girl was knowingly or maliciously lying in her account of events, Piché said the trial had raised doubts as to whether her testimony was reliable.
He pointed out that the girl’s testimony contained graphic detail about the alleged incidents that never come up during her statements to RCMP in 2013.
During the trial, the girl testified that the details were the result of a flashback, something Piché argued pointed to her memory being potentially unreliable.
Piché also raised issues based on testimony from the girl’s mother. Court heard that the girl told her mom a few months after the alleged touching. During her testimony, the girl’s mother said that when her daughter brought up the touching, she talked about the incidents raised in the trial, along with an allegation that Ali had touched her on another occasion, during a visit to Waskesiu. In her testimony at trial, the girl denied making that accusation.
Piché also raised concerns with the girl’s assertion that she avoided Ali after the alleged incidents. He pointed to photos and a short video that showed the two spending time together in the months following the alleged abuse.
Herder took issue with some of Piché’s arguments around the girl’s reaction to the alleged fondling. Piché had noted that the girl didn’t cry out for help, even though Ali’s wife would have been nearby at the time. Herder said this amounted to asking the judge to apply preconceived notions of how a victim ought to react in cases of sexual assault.
Herder dismissed the photos and video Piché presented. She argued that for at least one photo and the video, there was no hard proof of the dates when they were taken. In his testimony at trial, Ali had pointed to file names automatically generated by the camera indicating the dates, Herder said there was no way to know if the camera in question was accurate. She went on to say that while the images showed the two together, at least one was taken at a large public event, and in any case, she argued that just because the girl and Ali may have spent time together after the alleged incidents, it didn’t prove that the then 10-year-old girl necessarily wanted to be there.
On the issue of the difference between the girl’s testimony and her mother’s, Herder said that with a decade having passed since the conversation, it was just as possible that the mother was remembering events inaccurately.
With closing arguments wrapped up, Justice Dan Konkin is expected to deliver his verdict in the case on Dec. 18.