Xeni Gwet’in chief Jimmy Lulua (left) with former chief Roger William (right) and his wife Shannon Stump (centre) Tuesday afternoon after William was acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

VIDEO: Former B.C. First Nations chief acquitted of sexual interference

Former Xeni Gwet’in chief Roger William said he’s relieved to have his name cleared

Former B.C. First Nations chief and current Cariboo Regional District director Roger William has been acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16 after a two-day trial in Williams Lake Provincial Court which ended Tuesday.

William, 53, was facing the charge in connection with an allegation said to have occurred on May 12, 2017.

Outside the courthouse William said he was very relieved about the verdict.

“It has been a long journey,” he told the Tribune. “I was worried about my family, my children, my people, my nation. This is bigger than me. I’ve been a big part of the Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal Title Win in 2014 and to be in this, it’s been so tough.”

Related: Tsilhqot’in celebrate rights and title anniversary

William said he was still thinking about the complainant.

“She is having a tough time and she was a bright young lady. I’m not to sure why she did what she did and said what she said, but I’m so happy for the decision.”

The trial began Monday and saw the complainant testify by closed-circuit television from another room. William defended himself and his wife, Shannon Stump, also appeared as a witness for the defense.

In reading out her decision Tuesday afternoon, Justice Jodie Werier said it would be unsafe for her to convict William.

“He adamantly denied sexual touching,” Werier said of William’s testimony. “I find it would be unsafe for me to file a conviction based on the evidence of the complainant.”

Werier said the complainant’s description of the alleged sexual touching on the upper thigh and inner thigh at the movie theatre and again later that evening lacked detail and the detail that was provided was unacceptable to rely on.

When asked if the alleged touching by William on the complainant’s chest went on for a long time or one movement, the complainant could not remember, Werier added.

Defense lawyer David Rosenberg, who has represented William through the rights and title cases, said he was not surprised by the outcome.

“Roger’s waited a long time to be vindicated and this day has been a long-time coming,” Rosenberg said. “I’m glad to see the system works and justice was done in this circumstance.”

Rosenberg said it takes a lifetime to build up a reputation such as William has and all it takes is for an allegation to destroy all that.

“I’m glad he’s been vindicated and I’m hopeful he will get on with his life in a very constructive way.”

When William was charged, the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) announced he was being relieved of his duties with the TNG awaiting the outcome of the judicial process. William has, however, continued to represent Area J/West Chilcotin throughout the process.

Related: B.C Supreme Court clears path for Taseko Mines Ltd. to start exploratory drilling in Teztan Biny area

William remained on as chief of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation until February 2018, but lost the election for chief to Jimmy Lulua, who was on hand for the verdict.

There is a publication ban on any details that could identify the complainant.

Just Posted

Anglers furious over VIP fishing trip

DFO, SkeenaWild both investigating legality of FN research licence to fishing party

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Visibility improvements coming for Prince Rupert’s downtown streets

Work on McBride Street and Second Avenue intersections, crosswalks, will take place this fall

Pipeline challenger says his feelings are irrelevant

The prospect of a federal review has Kitimat and Terrace businesses and residents worried

Prince Rupert receives Softball BC’s association of the year nomination

Association could receive $1,000 and a free coaching clinic as prizes

More than 125 runners take part in Northern View Cannery Road Race

Teen Terrace runners first to finish 5km and 10km, Prince Rupert runner wins 21km race

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

Most Read