A Conception Bay North man who went to trial on charges of sexually assaulting a teenage girl has been acquitted.
The charges against Claude Parsons, 63, were officially dismissed in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Monday, and his lawyer says he will now start the process of getting back his life — and his children.
Parsons’ lawyer, Rosellen Sullivan, said Parsons and his wife had foster children taken away from them as a result of the allegations.
“They were as important to him and his wife as his biological family, and they were removed,” Sullivan said. “He will have to start the fight to get the children returned to his care.”
After more than a week of proceedings, jury members were in deliberations for a day and a half when Justice Rosalie McGrath declared a mistrial in the case last September. Prosecutor Paul Thistle decided not to call another trial.
Parsons had been accused of fondling a 14-year-old girl three times underneath her clothes during a barbecue party at a cabin in Conception Bay North in September 2015.
The complainant, now 16, testified via video from another room in the courthouse, describing incidents at the cabin, in the back of a truck and in her family home where, she said, Parsons put his hand inside her pants for up to five minutes at a time.
The girl’s younger sister also testified. Their mother had been scheduled to take the stand as well, but she wasn’t called after it was discovered she had spent part of the day listening at the courtroom door the day the complainant testified.
Sullivan attempted to cast doubt on the complainant’s credibility, questioning her about three charges she is currently facing in provincial youth court relating to a prank she and an ex-boyfriend allegedly executed a year ago. Using the boy’s cellphone, the pair allegedly contacted the girl’s mother and said the girl had been killed in a car accident. Police and emergency personnel were called, and a portion of the road was blocked to traffic for a period of time.
Sullivan alleged the complainant was mad at Parsons and his wife for reportedly calling child protection authorities about her family, and that the teenager invented the sexual assaults as a way to get revenge.
The complainant said that wasn’t the case, and told Sullivan that just because she lied about a prank doesn’t mean she would lie about a sexual assault.