Christopher Colborne hugged his wife and other supporters in the courtroom Wednesday as he was found not guilty of molesting a four-year-old girl.
"I'm relieved," he said on his way out of court. "My whole family is. This past year has been really hard on us and we're just glad that it's over."
The 42-year-old Calgary man was acquitted on charges of sexual interference and sexual touching with a child under 16.
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The charges were laid after the girl, who attended a dayhome operated by Colborne's wife, told police he had let her "touch his private parts."
The incident was alleged to have occurred sometime between September 2014 and February 2015 in Coventry Hills.
Colborne testified in his own defence at his trial, which wrapped up in January, and denied all the allegations.
Reliability of testimony at issue
His defence lawyer, Pawel Milczarek, said the acquittal was the "right decision" given inconsistencies in the child's statements and the "inevitable" difficulties when it comes to a case relying on the testimony of a four-year-old child.
"It's difficult to deal with it because everyone always assumes that a child tells the truth. The problem with that, of course, is reliability," Milczarek said.
"The statement was taken a long time after the alleged incident, not through any fault of the police, but because the revelation didn't come from the child for some time. And, for a child of that young age, a number of months is a long time. So, it's difficult to assess it in any way."
Colborne said his life has been "turned upside down" for the past year and after the acquittal, he felt like a giant weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
"I knew from the start that I had done nothing wrong."