'Homophobic rhetoric' by juror on Dean Blundell Show leads to overturned sex assault conviction

The Ontario Court of Appeal has called for a new trial for a gay man convicted of sexual assault after a juror on the trial made what the court called "homophobic" remarks about the case on a Toronto radio show

The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned Joshua Dowholis's conviction due to jury bias

Dean Blundell, right, spoke twice on-air with a juror in Joshua Dowholis's sexual assault trial back in 2013. Remarks by the juror, Derek Welsman, led the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn Dowholis's conviction. (@ja113/The Edge 102.1)

The Ontario Court of Appeal has called for a new trial for a gay man convicted of sexual assault after a juror on the trial made what the court called "homophobic" remarks about the case on a Toronto radio show. 

In a 51-page decision released Monday, the court stated it will overturn Joshua Dowholis's conviction, after a jury found the HIV-positive man guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of forcible confinement on Sept. 27, 2013.   

Dowholis appealed the conviction, arguing he received an unfair trial after Derek Welsman, a juror on the case and former radio producer with The Dean Blundell Show, discussed the case on the radio show on 102.1 the Edge. Welsman spoke about the case twice on Blundell's program — once during the trial on Sept. 20, 2013 and once on Sept. 30, after the trial was over.   

On-air, Welsman mocked the trial and repeatedly joked about the sexual orientation of those involved in the case.

In Canadian courts, jurors are instructed not to discuss the cases with anyone.

"The likelihood that a bias against gay men would affect the juror's decision-making process is greater given his willingness to publicly disregard instructions, engage in homophobic rhetoric, and mock the court process," the court wrote in its decision.   

The appeal court found that Welsman's remarks "demonstrated actual bias," making a "new trial necessary" and showed a "disdain for the criminal jury process."

Welsman's comments led to the suspension of the The Dean Blundell Show in December of 2013. The program was cancelled in early 2014 after 13 years on the air.

Soon after the cancellation, Blundell posted a statement on his website denying he is a homophobe.

"Over the 13 years I have been live on the radio, I consistently had guests on from the LGBT community. I did not discriminate on my show. I made fun of everything and everyone, and was encouraged to do so with the brand of entertainment we were employed to deliver. I have always been supportive of my gay friends, and of the gay community."

Dowholis has already served his two-year sentence.