R. v. GOLDFINCH, 2019 SCC 38

In a case involving sexual assault, the jury had nothing to do with receiving information that the complaint and the accused were “friends with benefits”.

Appellant Mr. Goldfinch, once had a relationship with a woman and at the same time lived together. Both concluded that they were in a situation called “friends with benefits”. At one point, the woman in question was spending the evening with the appellant in his house. The woman stated in her declarations, that she informed the appellant that they would not have sexual relationship that night, but on the other hand the appellant confessed that he had not heard this from her. Both of them kissed, and at one point the appellant told her that he had to go to rest. The appellant’s version was that he went after her in his room, they both undressed and then had sexual intercourse. Mr. Goldfinch also stated that it was the woman who later woke him up, confessing that he hurt her right on the head while she was sleeping. Appellant testified that he then was pissed off and told the woman to leave immediately.

The woman confessed that she informed the appellant, that in no case, she have the pleasure of having intimate relations with him. She admitted that the appellant was the one who forcibly took her to his room, involuntarily and something happened as “just snapped” in him. The woman confessed that she was forced, hit and without her will the two had sexual relationship.

The Appellant while facing allegations of committing sexual assault on the woman considered it appropriate and necessary to inform the jury that he and the woman in question were “friends with benefits”. While the prosecutor was of opinion that the jury should not find out that the relationship between the two. The criminal law provides that in the situation of the crime of sexual assault, it can be ordered what the prosecutor can say and the defense related to the sexual past that belongs to the complainant.

It was decided by the judge that the appellant was not prohibited from informing the jury that he and the woman were “friends with benefits”, as it was of relevant “context” in deciphering the connection between them. The prosecutor appealed this decision. It was decided by the judges on appeal that the concern evidence should be rejected. The mere fact that the evidence in question is “context” is not at all satisfactory, so as not to imprint in the mind of the jury the solution founded on a fable, the Court ruled.

On further appeal, the Supreme Court also voted to reject the evidence, because the appellant did not prove the usefulness of concerned piece of information. “Consent” does not transfer from one period to another, so the whole effort of the appellant to inform the jury about the woman’s acceptance regarding their sexual relationship did not have the expected result. Consent must be freely expressed each time. It was also found a mistake of the judge, who first ordered proof of the usefulness of the evidence to the appellant and then allowed the jury to know the evidence. Consequently, the majority voted for a new suit not violating the complainant’s sexual past.