Former Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle made a brief video appearance in an Ottawa courtroom today after being charged with 15 offences, including sexual assault, following his release from captivity in Afghanistan.
Boyle’s appearance in an orange jumpsuit from the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre lasted less than two minutes before Justice Norman Boxall agreed to adjourn the case until Monday.
Before the matter was adjourned, Boxall was told Boyle has retained high-profile Ottawa criminal lawyer Lawrence Greenspon as part of his defence team, although Greenspon was not in court.
Court documents show that the 15 charges against Boyle include eight counts of assault, two of sexual assault, two of unlawful confinement and one count of causing someone to “take a noxious thing, namely Trazodone,” an antidepressant.
There is also a charge of uttering a death threat and another of misleading a police officer. The purported acts allegedly occurred between Oct. 14 and Dec. 30 after Boyle returned to Canada.
A publication ban prevents identifying the alleged victims or any witnesses. The charges have not been proven in court.
Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were taken hostage in 2012 by a Taliban-linked group while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan. Coleman was pregnant at the time and the couple had three children in captivity.
Lawyer Eric Granger, who represented Boyle during the hearing, was also not in court today, although on Tuesday he said his client is “coping.”
“He’s as OK as anyone is who is suddenly and unexpectedly facing charges for the first time,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Office also said it would not comment since the investigation is ongoing, although a government official has confirmed that the Boyles met with Justin Trudeau at the family’s request.
The prime minister generally meets with any returning hostage with connections to Canada, and discussion of the hostage-taking was the main purpose of the meeting with the Boyles, said the official.
Boyle has said he and his wife were helping ordinary villagers in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan when they were seized. He told The Canadian Press that conditions during their five-year ordeal changed over time as the family was shuffled among at least three prisons.
He described the first as “remarkably barbaric,” the second as more comfortable and the third as a place of violence in which he and his wife were frequently separated and beaten.
Boyle said their captors from the Taliban-linked Haqqani network raped his wife and had also caused her to suffer a miscarriage. Shortly after landing in Toronto after being rescued, he demanded that his kidnappers be brought to justice.
In an interview with ABC News, Coleman, who is from Stewartstown, Pa., recalled that guards dragged her husband from their cell, and one of them threw her on the ground, shouting, “I will kill you, I will kill you” before assaulting her.
She also said their captors beat their eldest son with a stick.
The couple and their children had gone to Boyle’s parents home in Smiths Falls, Ont., after being rescued.
— With files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press