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Judge rules against allowing rebuttal witnesses in Brent Hawkes trial

Closing arguments are expected Wednesday

Brent Hawkes was charged with indecent assault and gross indecency in December 2015.  Credit: N Maxwell Lander/Daily Xtra

Judge Alan Tufts decided against allowing two rebuttal witnesses to testify today in the Brent Hawkes sexual assault trial.

“In my opinion, to call witnesses is quite frankly not going to add anything to the inquiry,” Judge Tufts ruled.

Crown attorney Robert Morrison had argued that the two new witnesses would be able to testify that they had also drank at Hawkes’ residence on other occasions. Morrison had hoped to rebut Hawkes’ earlier testimony that he hadn’t served minors alcohol at his home.

Hawkes, a longtime leader of Toronto’s gay community and recipient of the Order of Canada, is facing one charge of indecent assault and one charge of gross indecency for allegedly having oral sex with a 16-year-old more than 40 years ago in Kings County, NS, when he was a high school teacher.

Last week, the three Crown witnesses, who were minors at the time of the alleged assault, testified that they were all drinking on that night.

The first Crown witness said he remembered drinking beer at a nearby tavern, but didn’t recall drinking alcohol at Hawkes’ residence. The second witness testified that they brought some beer to Hawkes’ home and, once there, they had more beer and wine. The alleged victim said he remembered drinking beer and vodka and pink lemonade at Hawkes’ trailer.

Hawkes had testified that he hadn’t served them any alcohol, but that they might have taken drinks without his knowledge. He said that the trio had brought a jug of moonshine cider with them.

Today in court, the defence successfully argued that the two new witnesses shouldn’t be allowed to testify since neither side was disputing that the teens had been drinking that night at Hawkes’ home.

Outside of the courtroom, Morrison said he was surprised by the defence’s admission.

“That’s not what I recollect his evidence was,” Morrison told reporters. “But the defence did concede that, yes in fact, [Hawkes] was aware that was taking place.”

None of the allegations against Hawkes has been proven in court.

When the charges against Hawkes were filed in December 2015, his supporters argued that gross indecency is an inherently homophobic charge that should no longer be used by prosecutors.

Both sides in the case are expected to give their closing arguments tomorrow. The trial continues Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016.