Three Toronto police officers have been found not guilty in a sexual assault case involving a female parking enforcement officer during a night of partying in 2015.
In a decision handed down Wednesday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy said she found the complainant's testimony inconsistent and at times implausible.
Leslie Nyznik, Sameer Kara and Joshua Cabero, all officers at 51 Division, were accused of having non-consensual sex with the complainant at a downtown hotel in January 2015. Her identity is protected by a publication ban.
The complainant had alleged she was assaulted multiple times after a night out with alcohol consumption involved.
She testified her memory was spotty and that she was unable to move or talk as she allegedly was assaulted at a downtown hotel.
But the judge said: "I cannot be sure what happened in that hotel room," explaining that the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant did not consent or was incapable of consenting.
Supporters celebrate as decision is read
Molloy also touched on a critical piece of evidence for the defence — security video footage that showed the complainant walking normally into the hotel while talking with two of the accused officers.
"Her symptoms are inconsistent with objective video footage," said Molloy.
The judge's decision was met by an audible "yes" by several people in the courtroom when it was read aloud.
There was an audible "yes" from supporters of the 3 officers when justice found them not-guilty of sexual assault against female colleague.— @chrisgloverCBC
Defence lawyer Harry Black, who represented Nyznik, said the decision means his client is "vindicated."
"He looks forward to getting his life back, as does his family," said Black.
A lawyer who regularly represents sexual assault victims says not guilty verdicts can dissuade sexual assault victims from coming forward.
"Sometimes it has a chilling effect," said Loretta Merritt with the Toronto-based Torkin Manes law firm.
Merritt also pointed to the prevalence of "rape myths" in defence lawyers' arguments as having a silencing effect.
"It's obviously a defence lawyer's job to do anything he can to assist in his client's defence, but it's a little disheartening when it's going down the road of 'she asked for it,' or that sort of thing."
Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory said he wouldn't comment on the court decision. He said his hope is that the men and women of Toronto treat each other with respect at all times.
"That respect entails respecting that people may not communicate what they are thinking or communicate it awkwardly," he said.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said "the judgment speaks for itself," but that the union — which represents 8,000 uniform and civilian officers — wants its members to feel safe when speaking out with allegations of sexual assault.
"We encourage members that have any issues to come forward, whether female or male, and we do provide a full range of support to our membership," McCormack said.
Wednesday's verdict has not led to an internal investigation of the complainant at this time, he said.
Toronto Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray confirmed to CBC News that the force's professional standards unit is no longer investigating the three officers and that police chief Mark Saunders will be reviewing their suspensions.
If there is no appeal, Gray confirms, the three could soon be back on the job.