The judge in Tim Shields’ trial ruled Monday that any sexual comments made by Shields towards the complainant prior to the time of an alleged sexual assault would be admissible in court.
Shields, a former RCMP spokesperson, is on trial for one count of sexual assault connected to an alleged incident in an E Division headquarters bathroom in fall of 2009. He has pleaded not guilty and the judge-alone trial is being heard in provincial court in Vancouver.
In prior testimony, the Crown has sought to prove that Shields was in a position of authority over the complainant.
The complainant – whose name is covered by a publication ban – was scheduled to appear in court Monday morning to continue her testimony but did not, citing exhaustion from caring for her spouse. The court was told that her husband had needed emergency medical care on Friday, causing the trial to be delayed by a day.
Monday morning, Judge Patrick Doherty told Crown counsel Michelle Booker that the 24-hour care that the complainant said she needed to provide her husband was a nurse’s job and that “she’s not a nurse.”
The complainant is now scheduled to appear Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
Shields’ defence lawyer David Butcher told the judge he was concerned this wouldn’t be the last time the complainant missed court. Butcher warned that if it happened again, he would apply to have the case dismissed.
“My client has been under charge for over a year,” said Butcher. “We’ve been pushing and pushing to have this case finished.”
During a morning break, Butcher said he expected the complainant to need to be brought in by police, but when the trial adjourned for lunch, Booker said the complainant would be in court Tuesday morning.
Last Thursday, Doherty had ordered Booker to provide the court for Monday morning a list of alleged instances of sexual harassment. Booker’s list included allegations that Shields had told the complainant that he was attracted to her; asked if she was attractive to him; asked if she liked oral sex and told her how he would perform it; told her that he imagined sex with her; and asked her to wear lower cut tops.
When arguing that the evidence should be admissible, Booker said it is needed to establish context for the judge: that sexual advances were made upon the complainant by Shields while they worked together in the RCMP’s strategic communications department. The judge ruled partially in Booker’s favour during a break Monday; as long as the alleged sexual comments happened prior to the alleged bathroom assault, they are admissible in court.
Both Doherty and Butcher had challenged Booker to establish a timeline of the alleged incidents during Monday morning’s session. Booker said she had not spoken to to complainant in enough detail to provide the information.
“You have some pretty salacious allegations,” the judge told Booker, adding that at the very least the complainant should know which incidents happened before or after the alleged assault in the bathroom.
Butcher took issue with the Crown’s inability to provide even approximate dates during which the alleged incidents occurred.
“The complainant has not been clear on dates,” Butcher said. “The complainant has variously said that the bathroom incident occurred in 2009, 2010 or 2011.”
The trial, which began June 7, was expected to take three weeks.
Note: An earlier version of this story referred to the complainant and Crown Counsel Michelle Booker’s client. This is incorrect; she is the complainant, not a client.