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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A 63-year-old P.E.I. man was found guilty Monday of 15 sex offences dating back more than 20 years.
Leo Arnold Dowling appeared before Justice Nancy Key in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown where she gave her decision after a trial on 17 charges.
Key found Dowling guilty on all but two counts.
Dowling was facing charges that included sexual assault, sexual interference, indecent assault and invitation to sexual touching involving seven victims.
All of the victims were younger than 16 at the time of the offences.
It took Key about three hours to read her decision as she detailed the testimony from 11 Crown witnesses and two for the defence.
While Key spoke, Dowling showed little emotion as he sat rocking in a chair and looked straight ahead with his feet slowly tapping under the defence table.
Key said she found the victims to be credible and there was no collusion among them.
During the five-day trial in October, Key ruled in favour of a Crown request to consider similar evidence from each of the victims on all of the counts Dowling was facing.
On Monday, Key reviewed the victims’ evidence, which included allegations Dowling touched them on their breasts and vaginal area over and under their clothing.
There were significant similarities in the evidence, and some of the victims thought they were the only ones Dowling touched, Key said.
Some of the victims testified they only told a few people about the abuse before the police contacted them or family members as part of their investigation.
That included one victim, who said she was angry someone gave her name to the police.
Key said in historical sex offence cases it’s important to consider the length of time that passed.
If each count involved a single incident she would share concerns the defence raised about the victims’ memories, but in this case, they weren’t isolated incidents and there was a pattern of behaviour, Key said.
The court also heard evidence during the trial that several witnesses were aware of someone sending Dowling’s wife an anonymous letter around the time of the offences that said her husband liked to touch little girls.
Key referred to Dowling’s testimony about the letter, during which he said he thought it was just a prank, so he didn’t do anything about it.
Dowling took the stand in his own defence during the trial and denied all of the allegations against him.
Key said she didn’t believe Dowling and his denials, although it didn’t mean his guilt was established.
After reviewing all of the evidence, Key said she had concerns about some evidence related to one allegation of invitation to sexual touching involving one victim.
Key said that evidence didn’t fit with Dowling’s pattern of behaviour in all of the other offences and his risk of exposure would have been too great.
She acquitted Dowling of that offence and another charge related to a different victim.
Even with the acquittals, Key found Dowling guilty of offences involving all of the victims.
Dowling will be back in court March 26 for sentencing.
A publication ban prevents the release of any details that could identify the victims.