A Morinville, Alta., teacher on trial for sexual assault has been found not guilty of all charges.
Michael Dubas, 55, faced two charges each of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation involving two female students at G.H. Primeau School in the town about 30 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
In delivering his decision in St. Albert provincial court Friday afternoon, Judge Brian Fraser said he believed Dubas when he denied touching the girls.
"In my opinion, Mr. Dubas, you have suffered a tremendous injustice," the judge said.
The courtroom was filled with family members who wept and hugged Dubas afterward.
"I'm very, very, very happy to be clear of all these charges and just like to have my life back," Dubas told reporters outside the courthouse.
He said he doesn't know if he will return to teaching. Dubas was suspended from his teaching position at the middle school last year, pending the outcome of the court case.
"He's gone through living hell. For a teacher, this is living hell to go through 11 months of this," his lawyer, Brian Vail said. He called the video surveillance tape a "gift from God."
Girls' testimony not reliable, judge rules
The girls, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, alleged Dubas groped them in two separate incidents in February and October of 2009.
Fraser said the testimony of one of the girls was unreliable and pointed to a surveillance video showing the hallway at the time she said she was groped.
The video showed no evidence the attack occurred, the judge said.
The judge also found the actions of the other complainant did not fit with someone who had been molested. The girl told no one of the incident for a long time and made no attempt to avoid Dubas for the rest of that school year and the year after that.
Crown prosecutor Karen Thorsrud said she believed the girls were telling the truth.
"The judge made a finding that he disbelieved the complainants in this case but that is not evidence they were, in fact, lying," she said. "And I can tell you that if I had thought they were lying, I would have never put them on the stand."
The Crown has 30 days to determine whether they will appeal the judge's decision, Thorsrud said.
During the trial, students who were witnesses for the defence testified they overheard the girls talking about a plan to lie about how Dubas touched them in order to get him fired.
Every civilized society must strive to (1) eradicate heinous crimes by punishing the offenders, and (2) insure that the innocent aren't punished along with the offenders. Too often, the second half of that balance is omitted from the public discourse. Accusations of serious criminality, especially murder and sexual wrongdoing, too often are their own convictions in the high court of public opinion because the stigma is so severe. It is our mission to raise awareness about the injustices suffered by persons wrongly accused of serious criminality. Protecting the innocent from unjust harm as a result of a wrongful accusation is a hallmark of a civilized society.