A Canadian man recently freed with his wife and young children after years of being held hostage in Afghanistan has been charged with at least a dozen offences, including sexual assault, his lawyer said Tuesday. Joshua Boyle, 34, was arrested in Ottawa, his lawyer, Eric Granger, told The Canadian Press. Ottawa police declined to provide any details on the case.
The 15 charges against Boyle, according to court documents, 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. 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.
“He’s never been in trouble before,” Granger said. “No evidence has been provided yet, which is typical at this early stage. We look forward to receiving the evidence and defending him against these charges.”
Granger 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. A publication ban bars any information that could identify the alleged victims or witnesses in the case.
A man who answered the phone at the residence of Boyle’s parents in Smith Falls, Ont., on Tuesday said he did not want to comment. The Prime Minister’s Office also said it would not comment since the investigation is ongoing. A government official said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Boyles at the family’s request.
The official said the prime minister would generally meet with any returning hostage with connections to Canada, and discussion of the hostage-taking was the main purpose of the meeting with the Boyles. 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.