Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut January 18, 2018 - 8:14 am

Nunavut judge slams police over failed sex crime investigation

Sanikiluaq man, 60, acquitted after woman alleges he raped her in 1977

STEVE DUCHARME
Lukasie Anugaa, 60, was acquitted yesterday after a trial on an allegation that he raped a 17-year-old girl in 1977, when he was 20. (FILE PHOTO)
Lukasie Anugaa, 60, was acquitted yesterday after a trial on an allegation that he raped a 17-year-old girl in 1977, when he was 20. (FILE PHOTO)

A Sanikiluaq man charged with a rape alleged to have occurred 40 years ago left the courtroom a free man on Wednesday after a judge acquitted him on all counts, but not before the judge blasted Crown lawyers and the RCMP for their “inadequate investigation.”

Lukasie Anugaa, 60, stood trial earlier this week in Iqaluit on charges of rape and indecent assault, stemming from a sexual assault in Sanikiluaq in 1977.

The RCMP charged him in 2013.

“Today there is a lot of press coverage for how the police fail to properly follow up with sex assault investigations,” Nunavut’s senior judge, Neil Sharkey, said during his decision from the bench at the Nunavut Court of Justice, Jan. 17.

“I am left with the impression that what has been done here by the RCMP is simply a statement-taking exercise: that they took a statement [from the victim], laid a charge, and passed the matter on to the prosecution without bothering to look any deeper.”

Only two witnesses—the accused and the complainant—gave evidence during Anugaa’s one-day trial, Sharkey explained, with both parties telling “equally compelling” accounts.

The complainant—17 at the time of the incident—testified that Anugaa, then 20, forcibly pulled her into a bedroom and raped her.

Anugaa admitted to the court that he had sex with the complainant, but said that the intercourse was consensual.

“What expectation does the Crown have in a ‘she-said, he-said’ scenario, based on events that happened some 40 years earlier?” Sharkey said before acquitting Anugaa of the charges.

“I am left with the impression of an inadequate investigation.”

During her testimony, the victim named a minor who was in her Sanikiluaq home at the time of the alleged rape.

But Sharkey said RCMP investigators and Crown lawyers never attempted to subpoena that person—now an adult—or interview them to corroborate the victim’s testimony.

The law, Sharkey admitted, does not require corroborating evidence to sustain a sexual assault conviction, but it was another matter entirely “for the Crown not to leave such evidence where it may be available.”

“Nor has the investigating [RCMP] officer been produced to explain whether even any attempt had been made to obtain a statement [from the possible witness].”

Victims of sexual assault, Sharkey said, should never be left “hanging in the wind.”

Sharkey added that the length of time before Anugaa was charged with a crime did not factor into his decision.

“Our law has matured to a point where courts accept that victims of sexual abuse react to this abuse in many ways,” he said.

“Some victims complain right away,” he added, but that “others, for various legitimate reasons, do not complain until much later, sometimes not until years later.”

“Some victims suffer in silence and do not complain at all, sometimes from fear of reprisal, or indeed sometimes out of a false sense of humiliation or shame.”

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