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No retrial for man who had York U sex assault conviction overturned

Last Updated Dec 12, 2017 at 6:58 pm EST

A man whose sexual assault conviction was overturned after an Ontario appeal court found the trial judge relied too heavily on “rape literature” will not face a new trial, the complainant in the case said Tuesday.

Mandi Gray said prosecutors told her Monday that Mustafa Ururyar would instead sign a peace bond, which bars him from contacting her for a year but does not involve an admission of guilt.

She said the news was a surprise since Crown lawyers had told her days earlier that Ururyar had refused the peace bond and the matter would be going to trial in the new year.

CityNews court reporter Marianne Boucher also confirmed there won’t be a re-trial.

Though the process has been “a roller-coaster of emotions,” Gray said she is happy with the resolution and looks forward to putting this difficult chapter of her life behind her.

“All I wanted for the end of this year was for this to be all wrapped up,” she said, noting she has spent close to three years of her life on the case.

“There’s nothing more I need from it,” she said. “I never needed that conviction to validate what happened to me.”

Gray said she wished the system wasn’t so adversarial and she never intended to vilify Ururyar.

“Knowing what I know now, I think there’s no other option in terms of returning to campus and feeling I have safety,” she said. “Although it was brutalizing, terrible, I don’t see any other alternative.”

Ururyar declined to comment, but his lawyer suggested there’s no easy way to resolve cases like this.

“The adversarial system can be bruising for all sides,” Daniel Brown said in an email. “Yet this system is essential to get at the truth to the extent that this is possible and to safeguard against wrongful convictions.”

Brown said the matter would be before the courts on Wednesday.

Ururyar was convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting Gray, a fellow York University graduate student with whom he had a casual relationship. He appealed, arguing the judge who oversaw his trial was biased against him.

The conviction was quashed in July, raising questions about whether Gray, who has said the justice system does not care about sexual assault complainants, would participate in a new trial.

Gray, who has waived a publication ban on her identity, said Tuesday she has not yet decided whether she will attend court to see Ururyar sign the peace bond.

Last year’s conviction drew considerable attention, and the appeal court’s decision once again threw the case in the spotlight and stirred a debate over how the justice system deals with sex assault cases.

In the appeal ruling, Ontario Superior Justice Michael Dambrot said the trial judge gave no reason for dismissing Ururyar’s testimony and appeared to “reason backwards from literature about rape and how rapists behave to the identification of the accused as a rapist.”

He also suggested the trial judge may have plagiarized some parts of his ruling.

The appeal had also challenged an order that Ururyar give Gray $8,000 to help cover her legal fees. Dambrot did not rule on whether such an order was valid because overturning the conviction meant Gray would not receive the money.

 

Excerpts from a CityNews interview with Mandi Gray:

“In the eyes of the law, I am no longer a victim and I was for a very few short months. That’s OK. I’ve never needed the validation of the law. I don’t necessarily label myself a victim.”

“I think that in terms of social media, it was never my intention to vilify him. I rarely talk about him as an individual.”

“I wish there wasn’t the necessity for such an adversarial system … I absolutely wish there were alternatives. But in my case, as an example, I just don’t see that as a reality because the accused is hanging on so tightly that I made this all up.”

“I think the role of public shaming absolutely is too much. There are serious consequences to public shaming in terms of employment, applying for an apartment anything. There are consequences. That’s not to suggest victims don’t experience public shaming as well.”

“For a long time — for months and months after the report — I was so worried. Does he have support? Is he going to be OK? Does he have a lawyer? And finally, a mutual friend said to me, ‘Mandi, stop worrying about him because he doesn’t care at all about you.’”


Related stories:

Judge orders new trial for man convicted in York U sex assault

Toronto man appealing York U sex assault conviction says judge was biased

Settlement reached in human rights case between York U, sexual assault victim