Former Afghan hostage found not guilty in wife assault case
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — A Canadian judge on Thursday dismissed charges against former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle, who had been accused of assaulting his American wife Caitlan Coleman.
Ontario Court Judge Peter Doody said the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Boyle, 36, committed multiple crimes against Coleman, of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania.
The charges included assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement. The incidents were alleged to have taken place in Ottawa after Boyle and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as prisoners of Taliban-linked extremists.
Boyle and his wife were taken hostage in 2012 by a Taliban-linked group while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan. The couple had three children during their five years in captivity. The family was rescued in 2017 by Pakistani forces and returned to Canada.
Boyle was arrested in Ottawa in December that year. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Coleman alleged in her testimony that Boyle dominated and attempted to control her, and said he physically and sexually assaulted her on more than one occasion. Boyle denied that.
Coleman was not present for the verdict Thursday. Her lawyer, Ian Carter, said he had spoken to her afterwards.
“She’s devastated by the verdict,” Carter said.
“I believe this case is an example of the challenges a complainant faces coming forward with allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence, at least in the criminal courts,” he said. “She needs some time to process what was said today and try and move on with her life.”
The trial dealt with the respective credibility of Boyle and Coleman, each of whom spent days testifying about their relationship, their harrowing time as hostages and the events that led up to Boyle’s arrest in late 2017.
In dismissing assault and sexual assault charges against Boyle, the judge said he didn’t believe Boyle but also had concerns about Coleman’s credibility.
Boyle sat in the courtroom, his parents at his side, during the verdict.
Boyle’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said his client was relieved but that the entirety of the decision probably hadn’t sunk in yet.
Greenspon acknowledged that the judge hadn’t believed his client or Coleman.
“Had it been a credibility contest it would be a tie,” he said. “They both lost.”
Greenspon said Boyle’s next step will be seeking custody of the couple’s four children.
Boyle and Coleman had the three children born while they were in captivity. A fourth child was born in 2018, after Boyle’s arrest. Greenspon said Boyle has never met his youngest child, and hasn’t seen the other three in almost two years.