A man from North Preston accused of human trafficking a 15-year-old girl has been found not guilty.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Glen McDougall found Doreze Marvin Beals not guilty on all five charges, on Monday. The charges included sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking.
McDougall apologized to the court for taking extra time to make his decision. He said the inconsistent testimony from the complainant made it unreliable, and that the Crown failed to prove the accused was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Beals was accused of sexually assaulting the girl, keeping her in a cellar and threatening to make her work as a prostitute. She said during trial that it happened in April 2014.
She testified behind a witness screen, which Crown attorney Perry Borden said became “paramount” after she was mocked by people in the gallery.
Beals denied trapping her, claiming he was helping the girl hide from her mother.
McDougall said he believed neither version of events was fully accurate.
Borden said he-said-she-said cases can carry a large degree of uncertainty.
“At the end of the day, there was just too much doubt that (McDougall) had to find Mr. Beals guilty of the five offences,” he said.
Borden could not confirm if someone has ever been found guilty for human trafficking in Nova Scotia. He said it is a tough charge to prove.
“When you have a lot of uncertainties, it plays a factor into the conviction rate,” he said.
Borden praised the girl for testifying, saying she is “one of the most courageous young persons” he’s ever met.
“Certain parts of her story were not disputable,” he said. “Something happened. We just didn’t prove what happened.”
Beals’ co-accused, Andre Jerome Gray, was sentenced to 33 months after pleading guilty to confinement and common assault.