A senior from Dartmouth was found guilty of sexually abusing a girl over a period of 10 years from 1978.
Edward Smith Murley, 70, was on trial in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on two sexual assault charges and single charges of gross indecency and indecent assault.
Judge Kevin Coady pronounced the verdict on Friday, convicting Murley on all four charges.
The identity of the now 47-year-old complainant is protected by a publication ban. She testified that her family were closely related to Murley and his ex-wife, and that she and her sister were often left in their care.
She told the court that Murley molested her when she was five years old. The abuse developed from touch to oral sex and sexual intercourse and continued until she was 14.
She told of incidents at Murley’s various homes in Halifax and Dartmouth and said she was injured in the Windsor area as well. She said Murley took every opportunity he could find.
She said when she was 14 she reported the abuse to Murley’s ex-wife and then to her mother. She went to the police in the summer of 2016, 28 years later.
Murley took a stand in his own defense and denied ever attacking the girl. He said his job at the time kept him away from home for long periods of time and that he did not have the opportunity to commit the crimes.
In his decision, Coady said that the complainant’s testimony was credible and direct, especially given the challenges she had faced in her life.
“I found your evidence balanced and moderately reported,” said the judge. “While she often struggled with her memories, she did not falter as she recalled the alleged crimes. She was never evasive or over the top.
“It was not uncomfortable for her to remember the personal and traumatic events that shaped her young life in a completely dysfunctional environment.”
Coady said the woman remembered unique details about Murley that gave credibility to her evidence, and some of those points were corroborated by other witnesses.
The judge dismissed the defendant’s “blatant disapproval,” saying he was satisfied that Murley had more than ample opportunity to carry out the crimes.
“I accept that he was away from home … for days or even a week, but those absences were occasional,” Coady said. “Most of the time, he drove a taxi locally and had custody of his own young children.
“This defense is not recognized by Mr. Murley and is refuted by the testimony of other witnesses close to his family in material times.”
He described Murley’s testimony as “evasive and selfish”.
“During cross-examination, he constantly avoided answering straightforward and difficult questions, and tried to flee to safer ground where he could present safer, alien information,” Coady said. “I conclude that this tactic was Mr. Murley’s imaginary way of neutralizing the evidence against him. This goal was not achieved and his strategy was readily apparent.
“I also oppose his suggestion that this prosecution be driven by his ex-spouse’s hostility in retaliation for custody of their two children in 1984. There is no evidence to support such a suggestion.”
In view of the entirety of the evidence, the judge said he was satisfied that the Crown had unequivocally proven all four counts.
Coady ordered a prejudice report at the request of defense attorney Kathryn Piche and scheduled the conviction for March 5. Murley remains free under release terms.
Crown attorney Rob Kennedy told The Chronicle Herald he will seek a long sentence for Murley, who has other child molestation convictions.
In 2017, Murley pleaded guilty to two indecent assault charges and one gross indecency charge and was sentenced to 90 days in prison to serve on weekends, followed by two years probation.
These crimes were committed in Dartmouth between 1980 and 1985 and involved a boy between the ages of eight and nine and a girl between the ages of seven and nine.
Murley was also convicted of sexually assaulting a boy in 2007. When convicted in 2009, the court was told that he had completed a forensic sexual behavior program and was classified as low risk of reoffending. He received a 90-day prison term and three years probation.
Kennedy said the victim in the current case was present at Friday’s verdict and plans to read her impact statement upon sentencing in court.
“These cases are always challenging, given the passage of time and how it affects the memories of witnesses,” said the Crown Attorney. “However, the complainant on this matter was an excellent witness in relation to the memory of traumatic events.”