(OTTAWA, Ontario) — Canadian Joshua Boyle, his American wife and their children endured a long captivity in Afghanistan before they were rescued last fall and returned to Canada. Now he’s facing 15 charges including sexual assault, forcible confinement and administering a noxious drug.
Boyle, his wife Caitlan and their three children were freed in October in Pakistan, five years after the couple was abducted by a Taliban-linked militant group while on a backpacking trip in neighboring Afghanistan. The children were born in captivity.
Court documents obtained Tuesday say the charges include eight counts of assault, two accounts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful confinement and one count of causing someone to “take a noxious thing, namely Trazodone,” an antidepressant. There is also a charge of uttering a death threat and a charge of misleading a police officer. The purported acts allegedly occurred between Oct. 14 and Dec. 30 after Boyle returned to Canada.
A publication ban bars reporting any information that could identify the alleged victims.
A hearing on the case was scheduled for Wednesday in Ottawa, but Boyle’s lawyer told The Associated Press that Boyle would not attend in person. He said Boyle was in custody.
Ottawa police declined comment. Eric Granger, Boyle’s attorney, said he had not yet seen the court documents.
“There are a number of charges,” Granger said in an email. “Mr. Boyle is presumed innocent. He’s never been in trouble before. No evidence has been provided yet, which is typical at this early stage. We look forward to receiving the evidence and defending him against these charges.”
In a statement to the Toronto Star, Boyle’s wife wrote, “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.”
“Obviously, he is responsible for his own actions,” she added, “but it is with compassion and forgiveness that I say I hope help and healing can be found for him. As to the rest of us, myself and the children, we are healthy and holding up as well as well we can.”
Boyle told The Associated Press in October that his wife had been hospitalized in Ottawa, but did not specify why she was taken to the hospital.
Boyle also told AP that week that he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family.
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle said. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”
Boyle said then that their three children were 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”
“Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children … We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote in an email in October.
The parents of Caitlan Boyle, who is from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, said after the rescue that they were elated she had been freed, but they also expressed anger at their son-in law for taking their pregnant daughter to Afghanistan.
Pakistani soldiers rescued the family in an operation Oct. 11 aimed at their captors from the Taliban-linked Haqqani group. The Pakistanis caught the Haqqani fighters at some point after they had moved with their captives across the border from Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the operation was based on a tip from U.S. intelligence.
Boyle was once briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier who had contacts with Osama bin Laden.
The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight and was taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one describing it in 2014 as a “horrible coincidence.”
Boyle and his family met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the leader’s office last month.