Hay River man denies sex assault allegations
Mark Andrew Stephens, 56, and his wife ran informal foster home and daycare
Testimony came to an end Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a Hay River, N.W.T., man accused of sexually assaulting two children.
Mark Andrew Stephens, 56, is on trial for two counts of sexual assault against children.
When asked if he touched either of the children in the ways they alleged he did, Stephens's answer was, "Absolutely not."
Earlier this week, two children testified that Stephens touched them inappropriately at his house, which functions as a foster home and open-door daycare.
According to testimony, Stephens was home on a lunch break on the day of his arrest. A witness said she saw one of the children give Stephens a hug and ask for attention from him.
The defence lawyer said later that day, a plan was hatched — as the lawyer put it — to get Stephens into trouble.
The defence said kids regularly sought out Stephens for tickles and wrestling — they called him "tickle monster."
When Stephens was asked if accidents sometimes happen during tickling, he responded, "Yes."
Stephens's wife was the main caretaker, although Stephens was sometimes alone with the kids under his care.
Two character witnesses took the stand as well, saying they found Stephens to be honest and reliable. One testified that if Stephens said something, he meant it.
The jury will hear closing statements on Thursday. Jurors will then be asked to deliberate on a verdict.