Regina man guilty of sexually assaulting girl, 12

·4 min read
Christopher Duke enters the Court of Queens Bench in Regina ahead of the verdict in his sexual assault trial.  (Alexander Quon - image credit)
Christopher Duke enters the Court of Queens Bench in Regina ahead of the verdict in his sexual assault trial. (Alexander Quon - image credit)

Warning: This story contains disturbing details

Christopher Duke has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a person under the age of 16 nearly three years to the day after the attack.

The Regina man, 51, was stoic as Justice Graeme Mitchell read out his verdict at the Court of Queen's Bench in Regina on Thursday.

Under the Criminal Code, Duke now faces at least one year in jail, with a maximum sentence of 14 years.  He remains free on bail, but must surrender his passport and remain in Saskatchewan.

Duke was charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl at a home on the east side of Regina on the evening of July 31, 2019.

Any information that might identify the complainant is protected by a publication ban.

Although Duke faces just one count of sexual assault against a person under the age of 16, the court heard testimony during the trial that the complainant that had been repeatedly assaulted by Duke over the years they had known one another.

During the trial, which lasted more than eight months, the Crown called 14 witnesses while the defence called only three, including Duke testifying in his own defence.

The trial faced repeated delays, with a six-month gap between testimony and closing arguments, and another two-month delay between final arguments and the release of the verdict.

The delays have been blamed on scheduling problems as a result of other trials or commitments faced by Mitchell, defence attorney Chris MacLeod and Crown prosecutor Leona Andrews.

Duke entered a plea of not guilty on the first day of the trial, and has repeatedly denied he had any sexual contact with the complainant.

The assault

On the night of July 31, the complainant's brother testified he walked in on Duke assaulting his sister.

He said he was initially shocked by what was happening, testifying that he had seen Duke "raping" his sister,

The brother did not immediately confront Duke or reveal the assault to his mother, and later that night he spoke with his sister over Snapchat.

She told him that the assaults had been happening since she was six years old.

The next morning, Duke left the home on a business trip to Alberta.

After he was gone the siblings informed their mother about the sexual assaults, with the mother calling Duke and demanding he return to the home.

When he arrived, a fight broke out between the mother and Duke, with the complainant's mother testifying that Duke had proclaimed, "I did it. I don't know why."

Duke denied saying that during the trial.

The fight would alert neighbours that something was wrong, and the complainant's brother would soon run next door asking for help as Duke had "raped" his sister.

Police were called and Duke was arrested.

A sexual assault kit performed on the girl found male DNA in the complainant's vagina.

Forensic experts with the Regina Police Service and the RCMP were unable to exclude Duke — or any of his male relatives — from being the person responsible for the DNA collected.

Experts also testified during the trial that other tests detected the complainant's DNA inside a pair of board shorts seized by police at the home where the assault occurred.

The Crown put forward a theory that the board shorts were what Duke was wearing at the time of the alleged assault.

Closing arguments

In closing arguments, MacLeod highlighted that there was no proof that the shorts in question were worn by Duke or that they were his.

Andrews responded by pointing out that Duke had testified to wearing shorts the night of the assault, and was not wearing shorts when he was arrested.

The defence attempted to draw the judge's attention to inconsistencies in the testimony of Crown witnesses.

MacLeod implied that there was some kind of collaborative decision between the complainant and her sibling to ensnare his client in legal trouble, without offering an explanation or motive\.

Andrews stressed to the judge that no witnesses had been questioned on anything resembling that theory, and that it should be disregarded.

The Crown said any inconsistencies in testimony from the complainant are the result of a youth testifying to traumatic experiences, and that the evidence should be viewed through that lens.

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