Accuser ‘shaken but not shocked’ as
Toronto professor acquitted of sex assault charges
April 1, 2015
University of Toronto professor
Andrew Payne entering a courthouse in Toronto, Sept. 3,
2013. Payne has been acquitted of sexual assault.
TORONTO — An Ontario Court judge has
acquitted a University of Toronto professor
of sexually assaulting a young woman in her
home more than three years ago — a verdict
that has left the complainant “shaken but
The case of James Andrew
Payne, a senior lecturer in the faculty of
architecture, landscape and design, hinged
on two competing accounts of what occurred
one December night in 2011, when Mr. Payne
and the then 21-year-old woman ran into each
other on a west-end Toronto street. Her name
is shielded by a publication ban.
She testified in a Toronto courtroom that
he followed her into her house without
permission, removed some of her clothing,
jumped on top of her and grabbed at her as
she pleaded with him to stop; he told the
court she invited him up and was receptive
to his advances. He testified that when she
said she was too drunk to proceed, he felt
relieved because he had a girlfriend, and he
In her ruling Tuesday Justice Geraldine
Sparrow she she thought Mr. Payne’s evidence
had a “rehearsed ring to it,” but she also
called the woman’s testimony “somewhat
troublesome” in three areas.
First, that she told police she was drunk that night, but then denied being
drunk in court; second, she failed to tell investigators that she knew she had
not closed the door to her house properly behind her — an omission she called
“not insignificant”; and third, she submitted to police an account of the
night’s events, as written by a friend, without reviewing it properly and later
said it contained information that was not true.
“I do not disbelieve the complainant,” Judge Sparrow told the court. “As
stated, she was clear and consistent in most of her testimony … but his unshaken
testimony, viewed in the light of certain flaws in her evidence outlined above,
leaves me in a state of reasonable doubt on the issue of whether or not there
was consent of sexual contact.”
Mr. Payne, who is in his fifties and has stepped away from his teaching
duties, declined to comment. He faces another allegation of sexual assault,
brought forward by a woman after this case was publicized in the media.
“This was the result we had expected all along,” said Steven Stauffer, Mr.
Payne’s lawyer. “We didn’t know it would take this long to get there, but we
were confident this is where we would end up.”
He said they expect the same result from the second trial, which is due to
begin at the end of April.
Reached for comment, the complainant wrote in an email: “I’m shaken but not
shocked. I’ve survived a sexual assault and four difficult years battling the
case in court. I feel like I can do anything now. It’s clear to me that we work
with a legal system and not a justice system. I’m happy it’s now over, it’s time
for me to move on and heal the wounds this process has left me.”
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre