Canada: Jury finds OCAD instructor not guilty of sexual assault - PressFrom - Canada

CanadaJury finds OCAD instructor not guilty of sexual assault

18:31  13 april  2019
18:31  13 april  2019 Source:

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Jury finds OCAD instructor not guilty of sexual assault © Provided by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited Former OCAD instructor Keesic Douglas has been acquitted by a jury of sexual assault.

A former OCAD photography instructor and acclaimed artist has been acquitted of sexual assault by a Toronto jury that deliberated over two days.

A student accused Keesic Douglas, 45, of over-the-clothes groping of her breasts, thighs and crotch area in a darkroom at the downtown art university in December 2013.

Douglas admitted giving the woman a brief “sensual” back rub but denied groping her breasts and crotch. He testified he was under the impression she was “very interested” in him and wanted some kind of physical contact. He was 40 at the time, while she was 21.

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The woman, whose identity is covered under a publication ban, denied she did anything that would lead him to believe she wanted to be touched.

In closing submissions, defence lawyer Luka Rados suggested people communicate intimate desires indirectly through flirting and misunderstandings do occur when someone makes the first intimate moves.

“This case demonstrates how easily an unproven allegation can destroy people and run them afoul of the law,” Rados wrote in an email Saturday, hours after the jury returned with a not-guilty verdict. “Keesic Douglas was a rising star in the art world. Despite his presumed innocence and merited vindication, his good name, achievements, livelihood and relationships were all but shattered.”

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Douglas, who is from Rama First Nation near Orillia, Ont., had been on a two-year contract at OCAD, where he taught photography. He graduated from the school in 2007 before obtaining a masters of fine arts degree from the University of British Columbia.

The photographer, artist and videographer explores themes of stereotypes, racism and the environment from an Indigenous perspective. He testified his career in the arts ground to halt when news of his arrest in 2016 was made public. He had no criminal record.

“Mr. Douglas remains a gifted artist deeply committed to social justice causes. He was not only acquitted but deserves his life back,” Rados wrote. “Hopefully, people will understand this as he rebuilds his career and reputation.”

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

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