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article imageProtests and graffiti after Nfld. cop acquitted of sex assault

By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 27, 2017 in Crime
St. John's - There were protests and graffiti in St. John’s, Newfoundland after a police officer was acquitted of sexually assaulting a drunk women he met while on duty. Although the constable was acquitted of the criminal charge, he still faces disciplinary action.
After deliberating for two days, a Supreme Court of Newfoundland jury came back with a verdict around 7 p.m. Friday. The jurors found Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) Const. Doug Snelgrove not guilty of a sexual assault stemming from a 2014 incident. There were loud wails and tears throughout the courtroom after the verdict was read. The complainant quickly left the court crying while Snelgrove, 39, broke down and hurried to the gallery where he hugged his wife.
Almost immediately after the verdict was handed down, about 50 people protested on the steps of the Supreme Court building. They held signs saying “not guilty does not mean innocent” and “don’t rape on the job, don’t rape ever.”
On Saturday, graffiti began to appear in downtown St. John’s. Not only did the graffiti express displeasure at the verdict, some writings threatened Snelgrove’s life. Criminal lawyer Bob Buckingham denounced the threats and damage to property as a response to what he and many other lawyers thought was a fair decision by the jury. Buckingham worried about the effect the graffiti would have on the justice system.
Snelgrove met complainant while on duty
At trial, Snelgrove testified a woman approached his police car early in the morning of Dec. 21, 2014 and wanted a ride home. He said the 21-year-old seemed fine and did not appear drunk and he offered to take her home. He further said he went into her apartment and she then made sexual advances towards him. Snelgrove did not reject those advances and had a hard time explaining why he decided to go into the woman's residence.
The complainant testified she had been drinking at a downtown bar and passed out after she got home. She further said when she woke up, Snelgrove was having anal sex with her. She testified she was so drunk she cannot remember whether she consented to have sex with the officer.
In instructing the jury on Thursday, Justice Valerie Marshall told them in order to convict they must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt the woman’s decision to have sex with Snelgrove was invalid because she was incapable of consenting. The justice further told the jurors mere drunkenness is not the same as being incapable of giving consent to engage in sexual activity.
SEE ALSO: Judge: Video evidence shows victim too drunk to consent to sex
Lawyers believe the judge’s instructions to the jury were proper and that mere drunkenness is not sufficient to negative consent. Randy Piercey, one of Snelgrove’s lawyers, said there would be a lot of charges if people were charged after getting drunk and having sex.
There were a lot of demands for Snelgrove’s immediate firing. The 10-year-veteran of the RNC has been suspended with pay since his arrest in July 2015. In response, Police Chief William Janes issued a response last night.
Janes said his department is bound by the law and the RNC Act. Snelgrove has 30 days in which to launch an appeal and then the officer will be facing disciplinary proceedings. Until all these proceeding are concluded, the officer will remain suspended without pay.
Janes also added he does not and will not tolerate any improper or unethical behaviour from his officers and said the matter is being taken very seriously by the Public Complaints process.
Janes also assured the community the RNC takes sexual assault allegations seriously and urged victims to come forward.
SEE ALSO: Report: High number of sex assaults in Canada marked 'unfounded'
More about royal newfoundland constabulary, Rnc, doug snelgrove, defense of drunkeness, Sexual assault
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