Ex-beer mogul found not guilty of sex assault
Published Tuesday, April 21, 2009 1:52PM EDT
The former owner of Steelback Brewery has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting the daughter of one his former business associates.
Justice John Hamilton rendered his verdict Tuesday morning, finding 49-year-old Frank D'Angelo not guilty of sexual assault.
In his ruling, the judge said while he found both the accused and the accuser "credible," D'Angelo was "probably" guilty. He said he found D'Angelo not guilty because the charges against the man were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
D'Angelo's lawyer Gary Clewley said the verdict is an affirmation that his client is innocent.
"We are out here on the street, and that's what really matters," he told reporters outside the University Avenue courtroom after the verdict was rendered. "The guy was found not guilty and in this country it means he didn't do it."
D'Angelo had pleaded not guilty, telling the court that he had consensual sex with the woman who was 19 at the time. He admitted it was a mistake to have relations with her but insisted it was not sexual assault.
He claimed the complainant flirted with him over lunch, kissed him in the hotel room and initiated consensual sex.
After the verdict was rendered on Tuesday, D'Angelo said he was feeling "emotional" but happy he was acquitted after "a long two years."
"I'm happy because I told the truth and justice was served," he told reporters. "I'm sorry to everybody that we all went through this."
The woman, who is now 22 years old and can't be named because of a publication ban, testified that she went with D'Angelo to his hotel room at a Holiday Inn near Yorkdale Mall on the pretext that D'Angelo had to retrieve something.
They were supposed to discuss the possibility of her getting a job as event co-ordinator of the Steelback Grand Prix.
Instead, she testified that he grabbed her arm, stripped her naked, pulled her onto the bed and forced her into sex.
D'Angelo came to minor fame as the frontman for his commercials, including one for the Cheetah energy drink that had disgraced Olympian Ben Johnson declare: "I Cheetah all the time!"
D'Angelo's business empire eventually collapsed, with control of the brewery going to former business partner Barry Sherman. John Sherman, Barry's son, now runs that company.
D'Angelo is trying to revitalize his D'Angelo Brands company, which includes the Cheetah energy drink.