B.C.’s court of appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C.’s court of appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

New trial ordered for woman accused of sexually assaulting teen in Surrey

Ruth Marisol Sanhueza, who had been found guilty of sexual assault and sexual interference, has won her appeal in court

A new trial has been ordered for a woman accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in the back seat of her car in Surrey.

After Ruth Marisol Sanhueza was found guilty of sexual assault and sexual interference in Surrey provincial court she successfully appealed her convictions before the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.

“The appellant challenges the convictions on two grounds. First, she says the trial judge erred in her approach to an out-of-court denial made by the appellant when confronted with the allegations. Second, the appellant contends that the judge did not adequately explain why she rejected the denial,” Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten said in her Oct. 13 reasons for judgment.

DeWitt-Van Oosten found the trial judge did not properly assess the accused’s out-of-court denial and ordered a new trial, with Justices Mary Saunders and Elizabeth Bennett concurring.

READ ALSO: Haevischer, Johnston appeal convictions in Surrey Six slayings

READ ALSO: Surrey drug dealer loses appeal in sassafras odour case

READ ALSO: Man convicted by Surrey judge in hatchet attack near SkyTrain station loses appeal bid

There is a publication ban on information that could identify the complainant. The teen testified that during an errand run in 2016 Sanhueza drove him to a forested area near Guildford Town Centre shopping mall, parked her car and the two began talking.

“The appellant asked the complainant to look for something in the back seat. When he could not find it, she joined him there, and the conversation continued,” DeWitt-Van Oosten said in her reasons.

The boy testified that after Sanhueza’s alleged sexual advances, during which, he claimed, she touched his crotch twice over his pants, he was “uncomfortable” and got of the car. He told the court he got back into the car after the accused apologized, and then they left to continue with the errands.

The teen testified that Sanhueza told him not to say anything about the incident. About two weeks later, he told his parents. The court heard the accused claimed it was the boy who sexually harassed her and that she did not want to tell his mom about his alleged behavior because she knew the complainant’s mother “punishes” her children.

Sanhueza did not testify at her trial.

During final submissions, the Crown argued the teen had no motive to lie and was a reliable and, in fact, a reluctant witness.

“The Crown also took the position that the appellant’s statements about the complainant having sexually harassed her were not true,” DeWitt-Van Oosten said.

The defence, on the other hand, argued that the testimony of the complainant and his mother lacked credibility.

Defence counsel argued that the complainant’s version of events was false and that he did have a motive to lie, namely, to make up a story to avoid being punished by his mother for “sexually harassing” the appellant.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

CourtSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street, where a child was struck and injured in November 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
High-traffic Parksville intersection to get temporary 4-way stop

City staff to monitor effectiveness of traffic-calming measure at Despard and Moilliet

A Parksville Fire Department’s firefighter hoses down the facade of a Parksville Heritage Centre building after it caught fire on Friday afternoon (April 16). (Michael Briones photo)
Fire crews, roofers work to douse building fire in Parksville

Damage was minimal and workers escaped injury

Cast and crew of the Hallmark Channel series ‘Chesapeake Shores’ as they film at Parksville beach on April 15, 2021. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Fifth season of ‘Chesapeake Shores’ looks to showcase Parksville Qualicum Beach region

Executive producer: ‘We’re really excited for the fans to experience the fifth season’

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Nanaimo flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read