The chief of the Innu community of Uashat-Maliotenam on Quebec’s North Shore was found not guilty of sex-related charges against a minor last week.
Mike McKenzie had been charged in June 2016 for alleged incidents that took place than fifteen years ago between June 15, 2000 and May 20, 2001.
He said Justice Michel Dionne’s decision puts an end to “several difficult months” for himself and his family.
“Today, I turn the page on this painful episode. From now on, I intend to devote myself entirely to my role as head of Uashat mak Mani-utenam,” said McKenzie.
McKenzie’s lawyer Jean-Luc Desmarais underlined the contradictory testimony from the victim.
But for the Crown prosecutor Steve Beaupré the victim was sincere in her testimony despite some contradictions.
He add that the fact that the victim made the accusations during the 2016 election campaign did not make her less credible and he did not rule out the possibility of appealing the case.
“It’s possible,” said Beaupré. “It takes a point of law on which to rely. In cases like this, it is the credibility of the complainant against that of the accused.”
Quebec Native Women’s Association was surprised of the verdict.
“This acquittal is not only deplorable for the victim and her family, but it also sends a contradictory message to Aboriginal women and girls who want to denounce once and for all the acts of violence against them,” the association said in a statement to APTN News.