A man accused of violently raping two girlfriends, criminally harassing one of them, and threatening a male was found not guilty of the substantive charges by a jury in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Friday.
The eight women and four men found Michael Sean Myers guilty of the criminal harassment of one woman, whose name cannot be printed due to a publication ban. The jury also found Myers guilty of uttering threats to a male connected to one of the women.
But the jury concluded there was a reasonable doubt that Myers forcibly had anal intercourse with a woman who was left injured by the act. He was charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm for that incident.
He was also charged with sexual assault and choking to overcome resistance of a second woman. Crown alleged that Myers choked that woman to unconsciousness in order to have intercourse with her.
He was found not guilty on the three substantive charges, a decision that surprised the choking victim after the verdict was read on Dec. 14.
“I am shocked that they found him not guilty on all the serious charges,” she told The Progress Monday. “I don’t understand how someone could keep hurting woman like he does, and keep getting away with it.”
There were prior allegations about Myers’ past behaviour towards women, most of which was information the jury was not allowed to hear. They also did not hear that Myers was scheduled in court this week to plead guilty to assault and other charges connected to a woman in Abbotsford.
“I think that the Crown counsel on this case did an excellent job, despite the verdict,” the alleged victim said. “[Myers] got to get up on that stand and lie over and over again, but I wasn’t allowed to show the jury evidence that he lied, and there was a lot of stuff I wasn’t allowed to tell the jury.
“I am angry that he gets to get out of jail and just keep hurting woman again.”
The case dates back to 2015, and provided a challenging decision for the jury to make as the women alleged the violent behaviour took place during consensual intercourse. Myers claimed the women consented to the intercourse, they said they did not. The withdrawal of consent principle is such that just because someone consents to sexual activity, that doesn’t mean they can’t say “no” during the intercourse or when it changes.
Juries do not give reasons why they come to any particular conclusion, but given the complex nature of the charges and the lesser included charge on one count, and the “he said/she said” nature of the witness testimony, it’s clear they came to a consensus there was reasonable doubt on the consent matter.
On the choking matter, Myers claimed it was erotic asphyxiation consented to by the woman.
As for the criminal harassment, the jury went through hundreds of text messages and heard testimony that Myers watched the victim’s house at times, even showed up at an encounter she had with someone else at restaurant and poured a drink over her head.
Crown counsel Henry Waldock painted a picture of a man who frequently lied, to the police, to women, and to the court.
“Whatever truth that works for him right now is the one that he is going to deliver,” Waldock told the jury in closing arguments.
Defence asked that if Myers abused his victim as they claimed, why then did she keep going back to him after they broke up?
But Waldock countered that victims of abuse, from schoolyard bully situations to spousal relationships, often return to their abusers for various psychological and/or practical reasons.
On the issue of consent and the alleged crimes, there has to be intent in the mind of the accused. And both Waldock and Arnason agreed that if Myers believed there was consent, if he never heard the women withdraw consent, for example, then he could not be found guilty.
“Mr. Myers should not be convicted if he honestly believed that his partner was consenting,” Waldock said in his closing. “But if she is screaming ‘no, ow!’ then it is a pretty good indication she didn’t want it. No does mean no.”
The lawyers were back in court on Dec. 17, and a sentencing hearing for the two charges Myers was convicted on was set for March 1. Given he has served two years of time in pre-trial custody, any more time is unlikely, but what will be up for discussion is the conditions of probation.
One victim indicated she was told that if convicted of the sexual assaults, Crown was going to seek a dangerous offender designation for Myers, something that’s unlikely now.