Skip to content

B.C. court rejects sex assault appeal of man who invited girl from Ukraine

Ricky Edwards Thomas was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in February 2022.
Ricky Edwards Thomas' case was heard at B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver.

B.C.’s high court has rejected the appeal of a man convicted of sexually assaulting a Ukrainian student he invited to Canada to stay with him while she studied.

Ricky Edwards Thomas was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in February 2022.

The student was 19 years old when the sexual interaction began, the court heard. Thomas was 59.

In the April 22 Court of Appeal decision, Justice Susan Griffin said the trial judge did not believe Thomas’ evidence that the sexual activity was consensual.

The trial judge determined Thomas did not have an honest but mistaken belief in communicated consent. She found that even if there was consent, it was induced by the Thomas’ abuse of a position of trust, power and authority.

The court heard Thomas presented himself naked to the student and told her to rub his genitals. 

“The complainant testified that she felt forced to do it, and the trial judge accepted this evidence,” Griffin said.

On appeal, Thomas contended the trial judge erred in assessing his evidence in a number of ways, including misapprehending it and applying uneven scrutiny to the defence and Crown evidence. He also argued that the judge erred in applying the principles of sexual assault.

Thomas asserted he could not be guilty of a sexual assault where it was the complainant touching his genitals because this was not the application of force by him. He did not advance this argument at trial, Griffin said.

Griffin said Thomas and the student's mother met through an online dating website in 2014 and spent several months communicating virtually, before he travelled to Ukraine to meet them.

He invited the teen, then a university student in Kiev, to continue her studies in Canada where she could live with him rent free. She accepted the offer.

She moved to his residence in Abbotsford in September 2015 and began attending university nearby. The move occurred ahead of the mother’s planned move to Canada in late December, so for several months the teen was living alone in Thomas’ home with him.

He paid her university tuition and expenses, including buying her clothes from time to time. He also purchased the groceries for the household, the court heard.

“When she first arrived in Canada, she could not legally work, knew no one else, and was dependent on the appellant,” Griffin said in the unanimous decision for the three-judge appeal panel.

Griffin said the trial judge had not misapprehended evidence or made any error in her approach to assessing Thomas’ credibility.