Retrial for Cochrane man accused of sexually abusing stepdaughters ends in guilty verdict

1 / 2
Retrial for Cochrane man accused of sexually abusing stepdaughters ends in guilty verdict

After he was acquitted based on a Calgary judge's perpetuation of a discredited rape myth, Allan Dean Griffin was found guilty Wednesday of sexually abusing his young stepdaughters following a second trial.

Griffin was retried on charges of sexual assault, sexual contact with a minor and breach of trust for allegedly abusing the children when they were between five and nine years old.

Griffin was acquitted of other sexual abuse-related charges pertaining to his biological daughter.

Justice John McCarthy found Griffin "played down" his relationship with his stepdaughters and called the accused's testimony "self-serving" and "inconsistent."

A publication ban on the names of the accused and the complainants was lifted several years ago, at the request of the victims.

"These girls lived with the horror of what he did to them for the past 16 years while he lived, worked and walked among the many families in our community," said Lisa Maria Fox, the mother of Griffin's stepdaughters.

"I don't think these girls would have come forward if they knew it would take seven years to get a decision, and that they would have to testify three times."

Found not guilty in first trial

At his first trial in 2013, Griffin, who is from Cochrane, Alta., was found not guilty. But that acquittal was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal because of comments made by the original trial judge, Justice K. Yamauchi, on the victims' delay in reporting the incidents. The higher court found Yamauchi relied on "discredited myths and stereotypes" about the disclosure of sexual abuse.

Yamauchi is one of four judges in Alberta scrutinized in recent years for their controversial rulings and comments around sex assault cases, prompting calls from legal experts for greater diversity on the bench and better education for judges.

In ordering a new trial, the panel of appeal judges noted Yamauchi "erred in law" and "misapplied" two key legal principles.

The so-called doctrine of "recent complaint" has long been struck from Canadian law, the Appeal Court noted when it overturned Yamauchi's ruling.

Stepdaughters told each other

In the second trial, court heard Griffin's stepdaughters eventually told each other about their similar experiences before confiding in their biological father, who brought them to the RCMP in 2010.

At trial, Kylie French, now 20, testified she was assaulted three times around the age of eight when her mother was working and Griffin was looking after her.

She testified Griffin performed oral sex three times in two different locations but said she didn't tell her mother because she was embarrassed.

McCarthy, the judge in the second trial, found it was "reasonable" the children would have delayed their reporting.

Denied all allegations

When he testified in his own defence, Griffin said he was never alone with his stepchildren, an assertion the judge found "not credible" given the girls' mother had a full-time job and would have needed help with the girls.

The 49-year-old has always denied all of the allegations and testified in his own defence twice.

Though the girls were young adults when they testified, McCarthy noted he must keep in mind they were young children at the time of the offences.

"There were few, if any, material inconsistencies," said McCarthy of the victims' testimony  

"They just want to put it behind them and rebuild their lives," said the victims' mother.

'Right result has come forward'

Following the judge's decision, Crown prosecutor Ron Simenik successfully applied for Griffin's bail to be revoked despite defence lawyer Paul Brunnen's arguments opposing the Crown's application.

Simenik said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"These kids have been through this since their early years, they've spent either their whole lives living with this from a very early age or else they've been living with having to report it and testify about it for close to a decade," he said.

"It's just good to be over. It's never easy for a witness to testify and for them to have to go through this under oath, three different times, it's unfortunate but I think at the end of the day, the right result has come forward."

A sentencing hearing will take place later this year.