Former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle denies sexually assaulting wife
Joshua Boyle arrives to court in Ottawa on Monday, March 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 4, 2019 2:31PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 4, 2019 5:38PM EDT
OTTAWA - Former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle, accused of assaulting his now-estranged spouse Caitlan Coleman, denied Wednesday that he was sexually violent with her.
Boyle testified in Ontario court that while he and Coleman regularly engaged in bondage-style sex, it was consensual and playful.
Taking the witness box in his defence, Boyle consistently disputed allegations he mistreated Coleman verbally or physically, portraying her as unstable and prone to fits that made family life extremely difficult.
Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to offences against Coleman, including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement, as well as a charge of misleading Ottawa police in the hours before he was arrested.
The offences are alleged to have taken place in late 2017, after the couple returned to Canada following five years as prisoners of Taliban-linked extremists who seized them during a trip to Asia. While in captivity, Coleman gave birth to three children.
Boyle made a frantic, late-night 911 call on Dec. 30, 2017, to say his wife had run screaming from their Ottawa apartment, threatening to kill herself.
The call triggered a police investigation that led to Boyle's arrest hours later for allegedly assaulting Coleman on several occasions.
During the trial, which began in March but has paused several times, Coleman testified her husband spanked, punched and slapped her during their overseas captivity. She said his violent ways resumed shortly after they were freed by Pakistani forces.
Coleman said that on one occasion in Ottawa, an angry Boyle ordered her to strip naked, then used rope to bind her hands behind her back and her feet together on a bed with her face down.
Boyle said while he didn't recall that incident, the couple did sometimes have completely consensual bondage-type encounters.
“We didn't engage in angry sex or anything like that,” he said. “If she indicated she didn't want to have sex, we didn't have sex. It was strictly playful between us.
“Our safe word was 'no.' If you said 'no' or you shook your head vigorously, it was over.”
Coleman had a “tempestuous personality” and was mercurial at the best of times, he told the court.
Boyle said that during their on-and-off courtship, which led to marriage in 2011, Coleman would slap and hit him and even claw at his eyes.
Coleman once came at him with a knife because he brought the wrong kind of mayonnaise home from the grocery store, he testified.
Boyle said captivity did nothing to help Coleman's mental state. She would shout, scream and bang her head against the wall, he said.
“She was not mentally healthy going into it and it was not a good situation for her,” Boyle said.
In their final year as hostages, Coleman was striking the children several times a day, he said. As a result, she consented to punishments meted out by Boyle, including spankings or being made to sit on her hands.
After being freed and returning to Canada, the family spent time in an Ottawa hotel before finding an apartment. Coleman said following one argument, Boyle ordered her to sit in the shower, then forced her to take three tablets of Trazodone, an antidepressant.
Boyle said Coleman was having an anxious fit that day. He suggested his wife bathe before they headed out and that she take some of his medication to calm her down, since she had run out of her own prescription. “I just left the pills with her.”
Coleman has also accused Boyle of drafting a list of rules that included an edict she make him ejaculate twice a day, seven days a week - a total of 14 times - or face “chastising,” his word for spanking.
Boyle characterized the document much differently Wednesday, saying that was “not my understanding” of the number 14 on the handwritten list. In any event, the bullet points were only draft suggestions for Coleman to keep in mind, as the two had agreed to prepare New Year's resolutions, he said.
Boyle also denied hurling blunt insults at Coleman, forbidding her access to money, limiting her dealings with others or controlling what she said to the media.
He is slated to continuing testifying Thursday.
In a ruling Wednesday, Judge Peter Doody refused a defence request that a charge against Boyle of sexual assault with ropes proceed simply as an allegation of assault with a weapon.
In the same decision, Doody left open the possibility Boyle could be convicted of misleading police to believe his wife was suicidal the night of Dec. 30, 2017.