Retired Whitehorse teacher appeals conviction for sexually assaulting ex-student in the '80s

·2 min read
The Yukon court building in Whitehorse. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Yukon court building in Whitehorse. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A former teacher in Whitehorse is appealing his conviction in a historical sexual assault case involving a former student that wrapped with the delivery of a prison sentence this week.

Paul Deuling, 73, was sentenced Tuesday in Yukon Territorial Court to three years in prison for sexually assaulting a former student in the '80s.

The court found Deuling had non-consensual sex with the teenager while they were camping.

She was 17 at the time and her identity is protected under a publication ban. Now in her 50s, the complainant was the Crown's key witness in the trial.

Deuling's counsel filed a notice of appeal on his behalf the same day he was sentenced.

Deuling argues in the notice that trial judge Brian Neal "erred in law by 'compartmentalizing' his assessment of the credibility of the complainant."

Deuling was convicted of one count of sexual assault in a judge-alone trial last fall. He was acquitted of three other sexual assault charges and one count of indecent assault on a female.


In his notice of appeal, Deuling says Neal acquitted him on four charges because he deemed the complainant wasn't reliable or credible in her retelling of those alleged assaults. Deuling argues the judge should have reached a similar conclusion on the credibility of the complainant's testimony regarding the sexual assault for which he was convicted.

In his decision last fall, Neal acknowledged there were gaps and inconsistencies in the complainant's memories of certain details of different events. He said he dismissed four of the charges because he wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Deuling committed other assaults.

But Neal said the fifth charge was different. In his decision to convict, Neal said the woman's testimony was "very detailed and specific" regarding her assault on the camping trip. Neal also said she appeared "unshaken" during cross-examination on this charge.

Neal said the lasting impacts of that crime had been "devestating," as the victim had been a child and Deuling was 20 years older. Neal also noted there'd been a power imbalance and Deuling's actions had represented a breach of trust.

Deuling's notice of appeal further criticized Neal's decision-making though.

It says that Neal "misapprehended some of the 'facts' agreed upon by counsel for the Crown and counsel for the appellant," and that Neal shouldn't have believed the complainant's testimony recounting a history of abuse from her step-mother.

Deuling is seeking an acquittal or a new trial for his conviction.

Deuling is also involved in an ongoing lawsuit against him. It's filed by the same victim, but has yet to go to trial.