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Former St. F.X. football players found not guilty of sexual assault


St. F.X. University issued a notice to students and staff Saturday morning saying it had been told that charges are being laid against a student for an alleged “drug-facilitated sexual assault” that happened off-campus. - File
- File
ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

Former St. Francis Xavier University football players Jonah Williams and Tyler Ball were found not guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a fellow student.

In handing down his verdict in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Antigonish, Justice Timothy Gabriel took issue with inconsistencies in statements by the female complainant.

“Any attempt to come up with a definitive account of what actually took place on the evening in question is fraught with peril and doomed to failure,” Gabriel said during the two-hour reading of his 62-page decision.

“As I indicated earlier, my task is to examine the evidence and determine whether it convinces me beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the two accused. In a sense, therefore, my task becomes a search for reasonable doubt rather than the truth itself, which ... is often not fully discernible in any event.”

The two-week trial heard how the complainant, a first-year student, was having consensual sex with Williams, a prominent X-Men football player and house president, on Nov. 18, 2017. Outside his dorm room, a party dubbed the Catalina Wine Social was raging amidst fistfights and broken wine bottles in the Cameron Hall dormitory.

Williams invited four male students into the dorm room to refill their drinks as the young woman lay curled up under the sheets and made a joke about having a "sixsome". Those male students corroborated Williams' account that he then asked the woman twice in earnest about having a threesome and that she replied to each question “sure” or “I don’t care.”

The woman denied having been asked such a question.

One of the four males, Ball, stayed after the others left.

He and Williams testified that they both asked her again for consent and she gave it to them - which she also denied on the stand.

A female student testified that she entered the dorm room, interrupting the sexual activity there, and found the complainant laughing and smiling in the bed.

At the behest of friends of the alleged victim, two residence assistants, paid by the university to monitor dorms, again interrupted the sexual activity.

While Ball and Williams were taken out of the room to be questioned, a female residence assistant questioned the alleged victim about what was going on.

The woman, herself a student, testified that the alleged victim said she wanted to be there and her concerned friends in the hallway were “overreacting.”

After that interaction, the residence assistants allowed Williams and Ball to return to the dorm room.

The alleged victim testified she did not remember the conversation with the residence assistant.

Ball testified that once again alone in the room with the young woman, sexual activity did not resume and he began getting ready to leave.

At that point, the young woman’s roommate entered the room and the alleged victim began crying. 

She was heard by multiple witnesses to say “Jonah doesn’t know,” but what she was referring to wasn’t firmly established during the trial.

Back in her dorm room, the complainant was very emotional and friends testified that she was near hyperventilating. Another friend testified that she overheard the alleged victim say she initially consented to the sexual activities but, when her roommate burst in, realized it wasn’t what she wanted.

“To put it baldly, I have easily been left in reasonable doubt that the Crown has proven that (the alleged victim) did not consent to the threesome activities, whatever they actually were,” Gabriel said.

“As I said earlier, (the complainant) appears to have been OK with what had occurred up the time the (residence assistant) spoke with her, and there is no evidence that the activities changed after (the residence assistant) left. In fact, I accepted Mr. Ball’s evidence that there were no further such activities.”

Upon hearing the not-guilty verdict, the young woman collapsed in the courtroom while the parents of the accused could be seen holding hands.

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