A new trial has been ordered for a Toronto man who was found guilty last year of sexually assaulting a fellow York University PhD student with whom he had a casual relationship.
Ontario Superior Justice Michael Dambrot said the trial judge’s assessment of Mustafa Ururyar’s evidence appeared coloured by “rape literature.”
Dambrot said Justice Marvin Zuker’s reasons for handing down a conviction were “incomprehensible.”
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“All witnesses, not just rape complainants, are entitled to have their credibility assessed on the basis of the evidence in the case, rather than on assumptions about human behaviour derived from a trial judge’s personal reading of social science literature,” said Dambrot.
“I agree with the trial judge that we must be vigilant to reject pernicious stereotypical thinking about the behaviour of women. At the same time, we must not adopt pernicious assumptions about men and their tendency to rape.”
Dambrot also suggested Zuker may have plagiarized some parts of his ruling.
Ururyar had appealed his July 2016 conviction in the sexual assault of Mandi Gray, alleging Zuker was biased and misapprehended some of the evidence.
His lawyer, Mark Halfyard, said after the ruling that his client looks forward to making his case at the retrial.
“Mr. Ururyar has always protested his innocence,” Halfyard said. “This has been an obviously very traumatic and stressful experience and hopefully at some point in the near future it’s coming to a close.”
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Gray, who waived the standard publication ban on the identity of sexual assault complainants, said she wasn’t surprised by Dambrot’s decision.
“I think that this sends a loud, clear message to people who are sexually assaulted: don’t bother reporting because you’re going to look at the next two, three years of your life being wrapped up in a system that doesn’t care about you,” she said outside court.
Gray wouldn’t say if she’d participate in a new trial.
A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 4.