TORONTO — A Canadian man recently freed with his American wife and children after years being held hostage in Afghanistan has been arrested and faces at least a dozen charges including sexual assault, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Attorney Eric Granger said Joshua Boyle also faces assault and forcible confinement charges.
Boyle, his wife Caitlan, and their three children were rescued last year 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.
A hearing on the case was scheduled for Wednesday in Ottawa, but the lawyer said Boyle would not attend in person. He said Boyle was in custody.
Ottawa police declined comment. Granger said he had not seen the court documents yet.
“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,” Granger said in an email.
A publication ban bars reporting any information that could identify the alleged victims or witnesses in the case.
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.”
The family met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the leader’s office last month.
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.
“My wife has been through hell, and she has to be my first priority right now,” Boyle wrote then.
Boyle also told AP that he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family, thinking: “Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family.”
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle added. “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 troops 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.”
This story has been corrected to show that the family was rescued in Pakistan.