Ronald Teneycke walked away a free man Friday in Penticton after he was found not guilty of three counts of sexual assault.
In B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton on Friday, Justice James Williams found Ronald Teneycke not guilty on two counts of sexual assault and one count of unlawful confinement in the case involving a 44-year-old hitchhiker at an abandoned pumphouse on July 31, 2011.
Williams suggested in his decision that both Teneycke and the woman lied in their police statements and in court.
Although Williams told the court he "strongly suspects" the incident was "non-consensual," he said the Crown was unable to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Outside the courthouse afterwards, Teneycke said he felt "vindicated" by the acquittal.
"I spent 15 months in jail for something I didn't do, you know," he said. "How would you feel?"
The woman had said Teneycke picked her up near Penticton's airport in the afternoon and took her to Keremeos so she could buy cocaine. She said they then drove the Fairview-Cawston Road to Oliver and then headed north toward Okanagan Falls. The woman said Teneycke took her to the old pumphouse and assaulted her with a homemade sex toy.
Teneycke said he feels bad for the woman but called her a "crackhead," adding "crackheads take advantage of things." He also blamed the media for the 15 months he spent behind bars for a crime he says he didn't commit.
However, he said he doesn't regret picking the woman up that day.
"I don't regret trying to help someone when they're in need and when I see somebody staggering on the road and the traffic's flying by," said Teneycke. "I don't regret that one bit."
Williams said both the woman's and Teneycke's testimonies were questionable and unreliable.
Teneycke's DNA was found on the inside of a towel that was wrapped around the sex toy, and a doctor's examination revealed tears to the woman's vaginal wall. This could have been due to rough fondling of the area but not necessarily point to non-consensual action, he said.
Williams also said he found the woman's description of the events "problematic," noting she was unable to recall several details about the incident, which could have been a result of her mixing alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs.
He also noted she admitted flirting with Teneycke because she wanted him to take her to where she could get money and find some cocaine.
Similarly, Williams said much of Teneycke's testimony could have been fabricated, even adding it likely was, but emphasized the evidence wasn't sufficient to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Teneycke also had faced one count of sexual assault with a weapon and one count of breach of probation, but the judge dismissed those charges.
Katherine Richards, Teneycke's former girlfriend, and Terry Berg, his aunt, spoke to the media after the decision.
"I'm very happy about it," said Berg. "He has another chance to hopefully do something really good with his life."
Richards said she feels badly for Teneycke and for the woman he was accused of assaulting.
"This has been hard on everyone involved," she said. "Every life has changed."
The trial wasn't Teneycke's first for sexual assault.
He became the focus of a community uproar in 2007 when he moved back to his hometown of Oliver after being released from federal prison in Saskatchewan. He had served his full eight-year sentence for a violent sexual assault near Okanagan Falls in 1993 and a further four-year term for threatening to kill a parole officer.