Canadian father held hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan for five years charged with sexual assault

A father held hostage by Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan for five years has been charged with sexual assault.

Joshua Boyle, 34, who with his wife Caitlan Coleman Boyle was captured by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan in October 2012, will have his case discussed during a brief preliminary hearing at a court in Ottowa, Canada, on Wednesday.

The Canadian citizen, whose American wife gave birth to their three children while in captivity, faces a total of 15 charges, including eight counts of assault, two of sexual assault, two claims of unlawful confinement, and one accusation of uttering death threats.

All the alleged offences are said to have occurred after the Boyles returned to Canada having been rescued following a gunfight between Pakistani security forces and their captors in October 2017. A court order prevents identification of any of the alleged victims.

Boyle’s lawyer Eric Granger has said: “Mr Boyle is presumed innocent. He’s never been in trouble before. We look forward to receiving the evidence and defending him against these charges.”

Ms Boyle, originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, told the Toronto Star: “I can’t speak about the specific charges, but I can say that ultimately it is the strain and trauma he was forced to endure for so many years and the effects that that had on his mental state that is most culpable for this.”

After being rescued, the couple said their captors had killed one unborn daughter by forcing Ms Boyle to undergo an abortion.

They also said Ms Boyle was raped while they were being held hostage in Afghanistan and Pakistan, being drugged and put in the boots of cars when the Haqqani network guerrillas wanted to move them.

Ms Boyle had been heavily pregnant with their first child when the couple were captured during an extended backpacking trip that had taken them to a remote area of Afghanistan outside Kabul. Mr Boyle has previously said he and his wife had gone to the area to assist people “who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.”

After their first baby was born, the couple decided to have more children, despite being in captivity.

Shortly after her release, Ms Boyle explained to the Toronto Star: “It’s difficult to explain all the reasons, but, for me, a large part was that it has always been important to me to have a large family.

“This [was] captivity with no end in…

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