Jury deliberating in Brown sexual assault retrial

A jury has begun deliberations in the second trial of a Saskatchewan man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl on a country road seven years ago.

A jury has begun deliberations in the second trial of a Saskatchewan man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl on a country road seven years ago.

Jeffrey Brown is one of three men who were charged in connection with the alleged sexual assault near Tisdale, Sask., in 2001. At the time, Brown was 25.

He was acquitted in his first trial, but the Crown appealed and a new trial was ordered.

During the trial, the jury heard that the girl was sitting on the steps of a rural bar where the three men, including Brown, were drinking.

The Cree girl, now 19, testified she met the men at the bar after she ran away from her house following an argument with her mother. She accepted a ride from the men and later woke up to find them touching and kissing her, she said.

The three men then dropped the girl off at the house of a family she knew, after which she was taken to hospital.

During the trial, defence lawyer Kevin Hill questioned the credibility of the alleged victim's testimony, saying that during Brown's first trial, the girl testified she couldn't remember what allegedly happened to her.

Brown admitted sexual contact: Crown

But Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter told jurors that Brown admitted in a written statement to police that he had sexual contact with the girl.

Earlier Wednesday, Queen's Bench Justice Mona Dovell told the jury that under the criminal code as it was in 2001, no one under the age of 14 was deemed capable of giving consent to a sexual act.

The girl was 12 at the time, although she claimed to be 14, going on 15.

Dovell told the jury a mistake about age is not a defence unless the accused took all reasonable steps to determine the girl's age.

The original trials magnified racial tensions in the community because the men are Caucasian and the girl is aboriginal.

Brown's co-accused, Dean Edmondson, has finished serving a sentence of two years of house arrest for sexual assault. The third accused, Jeffrey Kindrat, was acquitted a second time after his original acquittal was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

With files from the Canadian Press