A judge has ordered a new trial for a Maple Ridge man convicted on two counts of sexual assault.
The Honourable Madam Justice Bennett noted in her decision that the trial judge erred by allowing “similar fact evidence” from one of the complainants in Allen James Brooks’ 2020 trial in Port Coquitlam.
Brooks’ appeal was heard in the Court of Appeal for B.C. in Vancouver.
Brooks was an X-ray technician at Ridge Meadows Hospital between 1990 and 2016. He was charged with sexually assaulting three patients while performing X-rays at the hospital: one in 1990, another in 1997, and the third in 2001.
A fourth complainant accused Brooks of sexually assaulting her the day before the first complainant in 1990, although Brooks was never charged in that incident.
It was her evidence that was entered as “similar fact evidence” or, according to The Criminal Notebook, a term that refers to admissible evidence that demonstrates the person acted in a manner that is consistent with their character – but it also runs the risk of violating a person’s right to a presumption of innocence by introducing prejudices based on lifestyle and not based on fact.
Madame Justice Bennett said, in her opinion, the judge erred in admitting the one accuser’s allegations as similar fact evidence as this evidence played a “significant role in the assessment of the credibility” of the two women in which he was convicted of sexually assaulting.
Brooks was acquitted on the third count of sexual assault.
“A person is not required to defend a case with which he is not charged except in exceptional circumstances,” said Bennett of the fourth woman’s allegations.
The judge, she said, admitted her evidence to establish the physical act of the charged offences.
However, Bennett said the physical act involving that person was never an issue in the case, because Brooks never denied her allegations. Instead he addressed them, and thought he had resolved the incident.
The institute he trained at acknowledged they had trained him incorrectly and changed their methods of teaching men how to conduct chest X-rays. He wrote an apology letter to the person and stopped putting his hands on patient’s sides when performing similar X-rays. No charges were forwarded to Crown counsel regarding this incident. Also, noted Bennett, the context was different between the fourth woman’s allegations an the allegations of the other three women.
“I would allow the appeal, set aside the convictions on count one and count two, and order a new trial,” concluded Bennett, whose decision was back by the Honourable Justice Griffin and the Honourable Mr. Justice Grauer.
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