Xeni Gwet’in chief Jimmy Lulua (left) with former chief Roger William (right) and his wife Shannon Stump (centre) Tuesday afternoon after William was acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Xeni Gwet’in chief Jimmy Lulua (left) with former chief Roger William (right) and his wife Shannon Stump (centre) Tuesday afternoon after William was acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

VIDEO: Former B.C. First Nations chief acquitted of sexual interference

Former Xeni Gwet’in chief Roger William said he’s relieved to have his name cleared

Former B.C. First Nations chief and current Cariboo Regional District director Roger William has been acquitted of a charge of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16 after a two-day trial in Williams Lake Provincial Court which ended Tuesday.

William, 53, was facing the charge in connection with an allegation said to have occurred on May 12, 2017.

Outside the courthouse William said he was very relieved about the verdict.

“It has been a long journey,” he told the Tribune. “I was worried about my family, my children, my people, my nation. This is bigger than me. I’ve been a big part of the Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal Title Win in 2014 and to be in this, it’s been so tough.”

Related: Tsilhqot’in celebrate rights and title anniversary

William said he was still thinking about the complainant.

“She is having a tough time and she was a bright young lady. I’m not to sure why she did what she did and said what she said, but I’m so happy for the decision.”

The trial began Monday and saw the complainant testify by closed-circuit television from another room. William defended himself and his wife, Shannon Stump, also appeared as a witness for the defense.

In reading out her decision Tuesday afternoon, Justice Jodie Werier said it would be unsafe for her to convict William.

“He adamantly denied sexual touching,” Werier said of William’s testimony. “I find it would be unsafe for me to file a conviction based on the evidence of the complainant.”

Werier said the complainant’s description of the alleged sexual touching on the upper thigh and inner thigh at the movie theatre and again later that evening lacked detail and the detail that was provided was unacceptable to rely on.

When asked if the alleged touching by William on the complainant’s chest went on for a long time or one movement, the complainant could not remember, Werier added.

Defense lawyer David Rosenberg, who has represented William through the rights and title cases, said he was not surprised by the outcome.

“Roger’s waited a long time to be vindicated and this day has been a long-time coming,” Rosenberg said. “I’m glad to see the system works and justice was done in this circumstance.”

Rosenberg said it takes a lifetime to build up a reputation such as William has and all it takes is for an allegation to destroy all that.

“I’m glad he’s been vindicated and I’m hopeful he will get on with his life in a very constructive way.”

When William was charged, the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) announced he was being relieved of his duties with the TNG awaiting the outcome of the judicial process. William has, however, continued to represent Area J/West Chilcotin throughout the process.

Related: B.C Supreme Court clears path for Taseko Mines Ltd. to start exploratory drilling in Teztan Biny area

William remained on as chief of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation until February 2018, but lost the election for chief to Jimmy Lulua, who was on hand for the verdict.

There is a publication ban on any details that could identify the complainant.

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

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Heavy flows of water pooled on Davis Road after a lead to a fire hydrant burst on Thursday Jan. 21. (Jim Tredwell photo)
Fire hydrant connection burst at Davis Road and Battie Drive

Crews worked well into the night on Thursday Jan. 21 to staunch the flow of water

A pedestrian was transported to hospital after being struck while crossing Roberts Street. (Cole Schisler photo)
Pedestrian struck crossing Roberts Street

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with police

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read