'No smoke, no fire' in Courtenay pool sexual interference charges
A provincial court judge granted a no-evidence motion for 60-year-old Courtenay resident Wolfgang Kurt Busch Thursday, announcing he is "entirely innocent" of eight charges of sexual interference of a person under 16.
Sitting behind his lawyer Dale Marshall, who presented the court with a no-evidence motion, Busch listened attentively while Judge Peter Doherty dismissed the charges stemming from the alleged incident nearly a year ago at the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre.
People in the gallery reacted with a mixture of applause and angry shouting.
At the beginning of reading his verdict, Doherty "easily disposed" of two counts due to no evidence from the Crown attorney.
He then spoke to every charge, noting major discrepancies between testimonies and the video evidence of a surveillance tape supplied by the Comox Valley Regional District.
He noted the video provided proof that no inappropriate touching took place — particularly that of a sexual nature — on the evening of Jan. 28, 2011 between Busch and children at the pool, other than incidental touching during rough play.
"In the 21 years of sitting at the bench, I've seen less than a handful of no-evidence motions. They are rare, but in this case, the motion is entirely justified," explained Doherty.
"Members of the public who have not sat in this courtroom and haven't seen the video may have concluded where there is smoke, there is fire. Not only is there no fire, there is no smoke.
"Mr. Busch is fortunate for the video from the regional district, or else there would have been a grave miscarriage of justice," he said, and added Busch is entirely innocent.
Outside the courtroom, Marshall noted he is not surprised by the verdict, and he credited the surveillance video.
"I am very appreciative and so is my client about (Doherty's) comments at the end of his ruling because this has been an incredibly difficult time. This type of allegation — unfounded — is damaging to someone, no matter what the court does, and we can only hope that people in the community can get the opportunity to read his decision because not everybody sat and watched the video, because anyone who sat and watched the video would know this man is innocent," he said.
"(The video) potentially avoided a miscarriage of justice, as Judge Doherty very clearly said. People do get wrongfully convicted, and that video potentially prevented that from happening."
Marshall said he hopes the community will accept the court's decision and Busch's innocence.
"Hopefully right-thinking people will read the judgment and accept as the judge said, this is not just someone who was found not guilty on a technicality, but is innocent — factually innocent," he noted.
Busch does still face one allegation of breach of probation when he left the country last February which does remain before the court, confirmed Marshall, but said he will talk to the Crown as to what they are going to do with the charge in light of Thursday's ruling.