Mountie won't be retried after sex assault conviction overturned

·2 min read
RCMP Sgt. Youssef Michael Hanna was interrogated by the Fredericton Police Force before being charged with sexual assault. The Crown has now withdrawn the charges. (Submitted by Fredericton Provincial Court - image credit)
RCMP Sgt. Youssef Michael Hanna was interrogated by the Fredericton Police Force before being charged with sexual assault. The Crown has now withdrawn the charges. (Submitted by Fredericton Provincial Court - image credit)

The Crown Prosecutors Office has withdrawn a charge against a former RCMP officer accused of sexually assaulting a co-worker in Fredericton.

Youssef Michael (Joe) Hanna was found guilty of sexual assault in December 2020. He was sentenced to one year of probation and given a conditional discharge. The conviction would be erased from his record if he made it through the sentence without incident.

Last month, Fredericton Court of Queen's Bench Justice E. Thomas Christie tossed out the conviction after Hanna appealed.

On Monday, the Crown prosecutor on the case said his office will not be seeking a retrial and is dropping the charge, according to T. J. Burke, Hanna's lawyer.

Burke said he can't speak for the Crown on why it won't be seeking a retrial. But he said case law shows a retrial can't result in a harsher sentence compared to the original sentence, and Hanna already served his one-year probation without incident.

"By the time this matter went to the appeal court and was decided by Justice Christie ... Mr. Hanna had fulfilled all of those conditions," Burke said.

"So if we were to go back to the provincial court and Mr. Hanna was convicted a second time, there would essentially be no punishment that could be offered for Mr. Hanna because he would have already been punished for the crime once."

Hanna was accused of touching the victim's vagina over her pants and kissing her breasts without her consent at her apartment after a staff Christmas party. The victim's identity remains protected by a publication ban.

Hanna won the appeal because his lawyer was able to prove that the previous judge erroneously relied on Hanna's texts and comments to support the idea that he committed sexual assault.

"Just because you have commented on her looks or her body at barbecues, and other events, does not mean that you are more likely to have committed the offence of sexual assault at a later time," Burke said.

Burke said Hanna has retired from the RCMP after 24 years of service.

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