Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

John Howard ED declared not guilty of sexual assault

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William John Hutton speaks to media after learning he was being acquitted of sex-related charges.

JAMES TURNER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

William John Hutton speaks to media after learning he was being acquitted of sex-related charges. Photo Store

The executive director of Manitoba's John Howard Society has been found not guilty of allegations he inappropriately touched and kissed a young girl.

William John Hutton, 54, learned Judge John Combs was acquitting him of sexual assault and sexual interference this afternoon — mere hours after he took the witness stand and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

"It's the best possible verdict," Hutton said outside court after learning his fate. "It's just a great relief to have this over with and to have the judge acknowledge (my) honesty."

Hutton said he will soon be in touch with the John Howard Society to discuss his return to work. Hutton was on leave from his job as the executive director of the John Howard Society for the past few months. 

Hutton was charged after an 11-year-old girl complained to RCMP about his conduct on Jan. 2, 2013.

Hutton testified in a "cogent and logical manner," Combs found.

His testimony was backed up by his wife, who also denied he'd done anything wrong.

Combs described her as an "insightful and perceptive" person.

Hutton and supporters hugged each other with relief after Combs pronounced his decision.

A publication ban on the case means little of the circumstances can be published in the media.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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