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Boyle trial suspended after Coleman challenges ruling allowing questions about her sexual history

Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle in photos taken shortly after they returned to Canada in October 2017, after being released from captivity in Afghanistan.
Coleman and Boyle - Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia/File

The trial of former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle is on hold while his estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman, challenges a ruling that allows defence lawyers to ask some questions about her sexual history.

Coleman does not want to face questions about her consensual sex life with Boyle.

But a ruling issued last week by Justice Peter K. Doody opened the door to some defence questions about Coleman’s sexual history with Boyle, including ones that touched on biting, bondage and anal sex.

Coleman’s challenge of that ruling will now go to the Superior Court of Justice on May 15, court heard Wednesday.

It means the case could be on hold for months, and possibly years, as that challenge is decided, and potentially, appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Eric Granger, a member of Boyle’s defence team, said outside court that the long delay is prejudicial to his client and could give rise to a Jordan application to have the case tossed out for unreasonable delays.

Coleman’s lawyer, Ian Carter, and Crown counsel had objected to the line of questioning about Coleman’s consensual sex life with Boyle.

They said allowing the questions would render meaningless Sect. 276 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits irrelevant evidence about a complainant’s sexual history.

Doody, however, said the specific areas of questioning are relevant in the Boyle case.

The judge limited the questions to events that occurred after Boyle, his wife and children returned from five years of captivity in October 2017.

Boyle, 35, has pleaded not guilty to 19 charges, including assault, sexual assault, forcible confinement and criminal harassment.

His estranged wife is the principal complainant in the case.

Boyle and Coleman were married in July 2011 after a tumultuous, on-again, off-again courtship during which Boyle was at one point married to Zaynab Khadr, the eldest daughter of Ahmed Said Khadr, a member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle.

Coleman began divorce proceedings against Boyle eight months into their marriage, but they reconciled and travelled together to Central Asia.

They entered Afghanistan in October 2012 and were kidnapped by members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network just outside Kabul.

They were held hostage for five years — they had three children in captivity — before being rescued by Pakistani forces in October 2017.

Coleman has told court that Boyle’s physical abuse escalated during the last two years of their captivity. She alleges that he hit, bit, slapped, choked and spanked her, while also confining her to a shower stall during the final months of their hostage ordeal.

The family met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau upon their return to Canada

Coleman alleges that Boyle’s physical and emotional abuse continued in Ottawa, where he imposed on her a written set of rules. The rules, presented in court, required her to take cold showers, exercise, lose weight, sleep in the nude, and ensure he ejaculated at least 14 times a week.

Defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon has suggested that Coleman’s memory is deeply flawed and cannot be relied upon

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