Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 27, 2013

Court upholds cab driver’s sexual assault conviction

The Yukon’s highest court has upheld a former Whitehorse cab driver’s conviction of sexually assaulting one of his passengers.

By Christopher Reynolds on December 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm

The Yukon’s highest court has upheld a former Whitehorse cab driver’s conviction of sexually assaulting one of his passengers.

Rodgrigo Torres, 42, had appealed a territorial court decision that he had non-consensual sex with an intoxicated 23-year-old woman in December 2011.

The three-judge panel dismissed his appeal, which claimed “her unresponsiveness to cross-examination” resulted in an “unfair trial,” the Yukon Court of Appeal ruling stated.

“To my mind, her unresponsiveness was no different than that of a witness whose recollection has been impaired by severe intoxication,” Justice Kathryn Neilson said.

“I am not persuaded it was voluntary or blameworthy.”

On the stand in 2012, the woman said she did not remember or had “blocked out” several details due to intoxication the night of the incident — “commonly seen in criminal courts: a witness that doesn’t have a perfect memory,” said Crown lawyer Ludovic Gouaillier.

The appeal court agreed with the trial judge that “the complainant’s testimony had ‘considerable gaps,’ and this made cross-examination difficult.

“He nevertheless found her credible, and accepted her evidence that she did not consent to having sex with the appellant,” Neilson said.

The identity of the victim is protected under a publication ban.

Torres had been released pending the appeal of his 28-month sentence.

A Mexican citizen in the territory on a work permit, he was seeking to avoid more jail time and eventual deportation.

“It’s really hard,” Torres told the Star last month at the Whitehorse courthouse while the appeal was being heard.

“I just want to close my eyes ... I don’t know how I’m still sane — friends and God, maybe.”

He will likely have to serve the roughly 16 months remaining on his sentence.

Torres had picked up the woman in his taxi after she had called Quality Cabs following a night of drinking with friends in early December 2011.

He drove into a bus turn-around, parked the vehicle and sexually assaulted her in the front seat of the cab, the court heard last year.

The woman testified that he “stopped the cab, got out, and came around to the passenger’s side, where he took his pants off and then removed hers,” Neilson said.

The woman testified that she had blocked out much of what happened but that she was certain she did not want it to occur.

Torres insisted the sex was consensual.

In his sentencing in October 2012, territorial court Judge Michael Cozens said women have an expectation that they will be transported safely when they call a cab company.

In Whitehorse, where the weather is cold much of the year and public transportation is limited, many residents rely on taxis, particularly at night or early in the morning.

The drivers are in a position of trust, Cozens said.

Torres, originally from Puerto Vallarta, has family members in both Mexico and Whitehorse.

He has no previous criminal record.

A sentencing hearing in December 2012 centred largely around whether he would be forced out of the country after he serves his time.

A sentence of less than two years would have given Torres a chance to appeal his deportation with immigration officials.

A sentence of two years or longer generally rules out the option of appeal.

Inmates convicted of offences including sexual assault can apply for release on conditions and potentially wait out the appeal decision in the community.

Torres was released conditionally last August.

CommentsAdd a comment

john gould

Dec 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Well one thing that we’ve learned about sexual offenders here in the Yukon is that once this sexual deviant gets out of jail he will be able to run for Chief of Liard First Nations in Watson Lake. It seems that being a sexual predator here means once you’ve taken anger management you are well on your way to a strong political position within the native community of Watson Lake which as a voting member for our local and federal Governments I will keep in mind because my interpretation of tough on sex offenders does not include the acceptance of frivolous appeals at my expense or our Government supporting sex offender politics. Just saying how I feel and so do many others no names so please print.

Max Mack

Dec 28, 2013 at 12:46 am

The rulings by the courts in this case are deeply concerning. Clearly, the moral of the story is that a rape charge will be upheld even when the evidence is, not only not compelling, but extremely unlikely to withstand judicial scrutiny in almost any other criminal prosecution.

Men be warned: women can claim incomplete memory and you will still go to jail for rape if she chooses to go that route for whatever reason.

bobby bitman

Dec 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

The ‘moral of the story’ Max, is that if you are a cab driver who takes a fare from a very drunk woman, do not pull off her pants in a bus turn around and have sex with her whether you believe you had the right to do so or not.  The point of calling a cab is to be transferred safely home.

You sound like a bitter man who has issues with men being held accountable with sexual assault against women.  That’s all I hear in your ‘men verses women’ post.  To me this is not a man verses woman story, it is the story of a rapist being held to account and that woman could have been your sister, daughter, cousin.. or simply a member of your community.  Looks like Mr. Cabbie is going back to Mexico, too bad so sad.

I would imagine the good cab drivers in Whitehorse are very glad to see him gone, by the way.

Jane Smith

Dec 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Max Mack, are under the ridiculous impression that what this newspaper has reported is the sum total of the evidence that was presented to the Court? Give your head a shake, and after that is done, read the actual decision of the BC Court of Appeal.
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/13/YKCA/2013YKCA0016.htm

piper

Dec 29, 2013 at 6:19 am

Now he can look forward to the warm weather in Mexico…good riddance.

john gould

Dec 29, 2013 at 11:55 am

att; Max Mack hate to burst your bubble but the ONLY thing that this ruling does to most normal Canadians and their rape victims is solidify to them that because some lawyer finds a loop hole or technicality to appeal a court decision that involves such a serious charge that unlike most places in Canada the victim is presumed credible until proven otherwise. Not only did our judges show fairness and good judgement to both the victim and the accused but common sense when reviewing the evidence.  This guy is guilty and was found guilty and I hope is made to serve out his full sentence in our country then deported immediately upon his release. Lets start protecting our women and children and stop turning a blind eye to all the abuse that happens up here. It doesn’t go away on its own. Well done to the judges and shame on anyone who doesn’t like this decision.

john jack

Dec 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

Deport him now not make tax payers pay for his stay in jail. Or take all his assets and pay for his time in jail himself, not tax payers. All criminals should have to pay for their time behind bars not tax payers!!!!!

piper

Dec 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

This loser should be sent back pronto.

June Jackson

Dec 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Mr. Torres comes from Mexico, where the age of consent is 12. If a rape is reported to law, the girl must prove she was a virgin.
http://www.examiner.com/article/molestation-epidemic-explained-age-of-sexual-consent-mexico-is-12
I can see where Mr. Torres, coming from this culture honestly did not think he was committing a rape.  That being said, when he came to this country he agreed to live by the law of the land, and in this land.. NO means NO. Inability to consent means.. NO…
I also think, this is probably not his first offense under CANADIAN law because he doesn’t think he’s breaking our law, but perhaps the first time anyone reported it.
I am glad for this sentence, and his deportation, let this stand as an object lesson..Know and abide by the laws of the country you are in or face this penalty.

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