Former hostage Caitlan Coleman's cross-examination on hold

Former hostage Caitlan Coleman's cross-examination has been put on hold while counsel deals with a number of procedural issues that could impact future questioning.

Warning: This story contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing

Caitlan Coleman leaves provincial court in Ottawa. The American woman plans to return to the U.s. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Former hostage Caitlan Coleman's cross-examination has been put on hold while lawyers deal with a number of procedural issues that could impact future questioning.

Her estranged husband, Joshua Boyle, 35, has pleaded not guilty in provincial court in Ottawa to 19 charges, including assault with a weapon, sexual assault and forcible confinement.

He was charged a few months after the couple returned to Canada in October 2017 with the three children they had while being held captive for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Coleman, 33, an American, is the alleged victim in 17 of the charges Boyle faces.

Judge Peter Doody advised Coleman that she can return home to the United States for the time being but invoked a witness exclusion order. 

He told Coleman that she's not allowed to talk about the evidence she gave, or will give, to any other witness or potential witness in this case until the trial is complete. 

Doody said Coleman will be able to continue her cross-examination via video link from the U.S.

Coleman's cross-examination was put on hold so the court can decide whether a 276 application is necessary.

That section of the Criminal Code of Canada says that evidence of previous sexual activity cannot be used to prove the complainant consented to the sexual activity in question.

If Doody deems that an application is necessary, lawyers would have to argue and await a ruling. 

Late on Wednesday Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham also objected to a line of questioning that she said could violate another section of the Criminal Code dealing with private records.

Counsel is expected to argue that point on Thursday. 

Coleman questioned about rule list

Earlier in the day, defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon questioned Coleman about her involvement with a list of rules brought up earlier in the trial. 

Coleman testified previously that Boyle wrote the list in late December 2017. She said some of the rules her husband required her to follow included:

  • That she sleep nude.
  • That she must plan interesting sex minimum twice a week.
  • That she log her calorie intake.
  • That she take only cold showers to build stamina and self control, and to help her hair grow faster.
  • That she fill out a separate daily checklist for heavy exercise, to burn 750 calories a day.
  • That she ask for chastising (spanking) every time she thought she had failed.

Greenspon was able to confirm Wednesday that Coleman did indeed add one rule to the list, the backyard daily portion, which Coleman explained earlier meant taking the children to play outside. 

Greenspon then suggested to Coleman that she also had a list of rules she wanted Boyle to follow, but Coleman said no such list existed, nor did Boyle write a list of her rules for himself, or that a joint list was created. 

"I'm going to suggest to you that you never really used this list," Greenspon said.

Coleman responded by saying she tried to adhere to the list but that by Dec. 27, 2017, she had not followed every rule. 

Last week, she testified that she was sometimes punished.

Boyle let her choose what she would be spanked with, and Coleman said she chose a broom. He exposed her buttocks and hit her multiple times with the handle.

"I remember that it was very painful," she testified.

Police statement clarified 

Greenspon continued by reminding Coleman about a statement she gave to police on the day after Boyle was arrested. 

In her statement she said, "so we didn't really use it," when referring to the list, but Coleman clarified in court that she was trying to explain to the detective why a section of the weight loss chart was blank and that the list was new, something Boyle had recently written. 

Greenspon also pointed out that during the interview, Coleman said "we" when referring to who wrote the list. 

Again, Coleman clarified saying that she didn't use the right pronoun, and that Boyle was the person who wrote the list. 

"You didn't slip and say you wrote it, because that was actually the truth?" Greenspon asked.

"No," Coleman responded. 

Coleman's memory tested 

Earlier in the day, Greenspon questioned Coleman about an alleged assault that took place on Dec. 10, 2017, where she testified that Boyle hit her multiple times in the face. 

Coleman said she couldn't recall how many times Boyle hit her, or what happened after the alleged assault. 

"With the various uncertainty that we've discussed this morning, Miss. Coleman I'm going to suggest to you that this incident that you describe in the dining room did not occur. What do you say to that?" Greenspon asked. 

"I say that you're incorrect, and it did occur," Coleman replied.

Coleman also responded to questions about how many times she considered leaving Boyle during the time that she was in captivity and during the time after they were released. 

Coleman said that during captivity she would voice her desire to leave Boyle no more than once a month.

When they returned to Ottawa, she only told him two or three times that she wanted to leave, but told the court she thought about leaving more often than that.

The night Coleman left

Greenspon asked Coleman about the night of Dec. 30, 2017, when she did leave the apartment. 

She said the turning point for her was when Boyle punched her on the side of the face quite hard and possibly slapped her. 

Coleman told the court that when she decided to leave she left through the back door of the apartment in a hurry taking her passport and their children's passports with her. 

Greenspon questioned Coleman about why she took the passports and suggested that she took them so she could take the children with her to her mother's house in Pennsylvania. 

Coleman said that wasn't the case, but that she took them to prevent Boyle from taking the children somewhere with him. 

Greenspon asked if Coleman told her mother during a brief phone call that she had the passports. 

Coleman said yes.