SASKATOON -- After years of court proceedings, a judge has acquitted Skipp Anderson of sexual assault.

Justice Alison Rothery said she “was left with reasonable doubt” about consent.

Anderson was accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated friend on July 10, 2016, following a hot tub party.

Justice Rothery said while it’s clear the complainant was drunk during the incident, it’s possible he consented.

Crown prosecutor Kathy Grier said these types of cases can be difficult.

“Even when you have a situation such as here where everybody accepts that the victim was unconscious for a large portion of this, that still leaves a doubt because nobody knows for sure what happened. So the cases are very, very frustrating to try to run successfully.

“And then you feel so badly for the victims because I think if a person on the street were looking at that, they’d think, ‘well that person was passed out so how could that be consensual?' However, the law has very fine points that have to be reviewed by the judge because presumption of innocence is such a valued principle in our justice system."

Anderson quickly left Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench after the decision, but defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle said he was relieved with his acquittal.

“Certainly, this has been a difficult road for him personally. This has been a very difficult case on his family – to say he’s relieved I think would be an understatement. Certainly happy that his chapter is closed and he can move on with his life.

Alcohol amnesia puts consent into question: Cross examination

Earlier in the trial, the complainant, who cannot be named under a publication ban, testified his last memory of the night was in the hot tub.

“My next recollection was waking up in a bed with Skipp Anderson behind me and we were having sex,” he told court.

He testified he was in no state to consent.

The defence referenced alcohol amnesia, arguing the alleged victim could have initiated the sex, but doesn’t remember.

“Because you don’t have the memory about it, it’s possible that (Anderson’s) position that you initiated the sex is correct? It’s possible it happened,” defence lawyer Mark Brayford asked the complainant during the cross-examination.

“Yes,” the complainant responded.

Justice Rothery referenced the complainant’s response during her decision.

She said the alcohol could have worn off during the time of the sexual activity, since it happened three hours later.

“The court is left in a reasonable doubt” regarding consent, she said.

In 2018, a jury found Anderson guilty of sexual assault, but the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturned that conviction — resulting in the judge-alone retrial.