Ottawa man not guilty of sexual assault because he thought he could have sex with wife anytime

An Ottawa man has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting his wife because of his honest belief that he had the right to have intercourse with her whenever he wanted.

In a written ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith said the Crown failed to prove that the accused had formed the required criminal intent — mens rea — to sexually assault his wife in 2002.

“I find that the accused probably had sex with his wife on many occasions without her specific consent, as both he and she believed that he had the right to do so,” Smith said.

However, the judge ruled the man was not guilty of sexual assault because the Crown had failed to establish that he knew his behaviour was, in fact, criminal.

The decision, issued earlier this week, followed a five-day trial in June.

The man was part of an arranged marriage in Gaza. His wife, a Palestinian who grew up in Kuwait, lived in Ottawa and the family settled in this city.

She testified that during their marriage, she considered it her obligation to have sex with her husband. Often, she told court, she did not consent, but they both believed it was his right.

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