Friday, June 8, 2012

Rape trial abruptly ends when accuser admits 'maybe it didn't happen -- I was imagining it'

An Ottawa taxi driver named Gazban Abdalrahman, 40, lost his job and spent nearly two years living under a cloud of suspicion after a sexual assault charge was lodged against him. That charge was dismissed Wednesday during a jury trial in which his accuser, a Down Syndrome victim, admitted she "might have" made up her allegations against him because she was angry he fastened her seatbelt for her.

Since the time of her accusation, the unnamed accuser has stuck to her story that while she was a passenger in Abdalrahman's cab, Abdalrahman propositioned her for sex on one occasion and tried to kiss her and groped her breast, buttock and thigh on another.

The case came to trial, and when the woman was on the stand, the accused man's lawyer showed her still images taken from a security camera inside the cab.  The accuser agreed that the camera – which snaps an image every second the cab is stopped and every 30 seconds while it is in motion – captured none of her “horrible” allegations.

Did you make something up?” Abdalrahman's lawyer asked her.

“I might have,” she said. “I was so angry."

Abdalrahman's lawyer suggested to her that one frame appears to show Abdalrahman reaching for her seatbelt, which could account for the touches and which the woman admitted insulted her.

“He was ensuring my safety and I guess I didn’t want it,” she said. “I am deeply sorry for all that is happening.”  She said “maybe it didn’t happen. I was imagining it.”

Later, she admitted she said “a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have said” to the police.

The Crown asked the judge to dismiss the case, and the case was dismissed.

Abdalrahman had his taxi license suspended and was forced to work odd jobs after the woman came forward to police in November 2010. 

“I believe an innocent man has been dragged through the mud for two years in a situation he had no control over,” said Abdalrahman’s lawyer, Paul Lewandowski, outside of court. “At the end of the day people presume you are guilty on charges like this, and even though there is lip service to the presumption of innocence, at the end of the day he has had this stigma over his head for the last two years.”

Lewandowski said Abdalrahman now intends to seek the immediate reinstatement of his taxi license after earlier attempts to get the license back were rebuffed.

“It’s two years too late as far as the licensing committee is concerned,” said Lewandowski. “He wants to get his life back. His life has been in shambles.”