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Man accused of sexually assaulting teenager will be acquitted

Crown decides not to call a new trial in the case of Claude Parsons

Charges against a man accused of sexually assaulting a teenager at a cabin in Conception Bay North in 2015 will be dropped.

The case of Claude Parsons, 63, was called in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Friday morning, when Crown prosecutor Paul Thistle told the court he would not be proceeding with a new trial.

A mistrial was declared in the case at the end of September, after a week-long jury trial. The jury had been in deliberations for about a day and a half when Justice Rosalie McGrath announced the mistrial, due to reasons that can’t be published because of a court order.

Thistle had the option to call another trial, but chose not to, saying there isn’t a reasonable prospect of conviction in the case. Parsons is expected to be formally acquitted when the case is called again Dec. 4.

A 14-year-old girl alleged Parsons had fondled her underneath her clothes three times during a barbecue party in September 2015. Testifying via video from another room in the courthouse, she said Parsons had put his hand inside her pants for up to five minutes at a time in three different incidents.

Defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan pointed out inconsistencies in the complainant’s statements given to police, during the preliminary inquiry and at trial. Sullivan also questioned the girl about three charges she is currently facing in provincial youth court relating to a prank she and an ex-boyfriend are alleged to have pulled a year ago, when they reportedly texted the girl’s mother and said the girl had been killed in a car accident. Police and emergency personnel had been called, and a portion of the road was blocked to traffic for a period of time while an investigation took place.

Sullivan alleged the complainant was mad at Parsons and his wife for reportedly calling child protection authorities about her family, and suggested the girl had invented the sexual assaults as a way to get revenge. The complainant insisted that wasn’t the case.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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