Toronto Star

Feb. 10, 01:44 EDT

Man acquitted in historic sex assault trial

Medical history laws overruled during case

The Toronto Star

EDMONTON (CP) - The man who tried to throw out Canada's laws protecting the medical records of sexual assault victims collapsed in tears after being found not guilty of sex offences yesterday.

But Brian Mills' lawyer still had harsh words for legislation he said did nothing to help clear his client.

Dennis Edney was also critical of the Supreme Court of Canada, which rejected his client's challenge and upheld the law.

``Under Bill C-46 you get nothing,'' Edney said outside court. ``It was a cowardly response by the Supreme Court of Canada to public pressure and special interest groups.''

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Belzil found that the complainant changed her story numerous times and even invented an assault she later admitted was false.

Although Belzil suggested ``something happened'' between Mills and the girl, he added: ``It would be dangerous to convict.''

Mills, whose legal ordeal has lasted 5* years, was embraced by his family as court adjourned.

``It feels pretty good,'' he said outside court. ``I want to go home now.''

His accuser, also in tears, fled the courthouse with her family without comment. Her name is protected by a publication ban.

Mills, 25, was charged with the sexual assault and sexual exploitation of the girl, then 12, in her mother's apartment in 1995.

His case gained national attention when Edney argued successfully that a 1997 law preventing people accused of sexual assault from gaining access to the medical records of accusers violated constitutional guarantees to a fair trial.

`It was a cowardly response by the Supreme Court of Canada to public pressure and special interest groups.'
- Dennis Edney
Defence lawyer

That lower court decision overturned Bill C-46, under which lawyers must convince a judge the records they seek are relevant. The Supreme Court, however, reinstated the law after a November, 1999 hearing.

Information obtained before C-46 passed suggests the girl had a history of mental problems. As well, Edney said he ``stumbled'' on unreleased police files that detailed a 1998 instance in which the girl said Mills raped her, and later admitted the charge was a lie.

``I had the perfect case for getting evidence under the law that permits it,'' said Edney. ``Bill C-46 adamantly shuts the door on that.''

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