- Joshua Boyle, 36, of Ottawa, Ontario, is on trial for abusing wife Caitlan Coleman
- Boyle, Coleman, and their three kids were held hostage in Afghanistan
- Couple kidnapped by Taliban-linked group in 2012 while hiking in Afghanistan
- Coleman was six months pregnant when taken captive by Haqqani network
- She claims Boyle raped and abused her while they were held hostage
- Boyle has pleaded not guilty in Ontario to 19 counts, including sexual assault
The Canadian man who spent five years in captivity in Afghanistan says he hit his wife after they were released but claims he did so because she asked him to spank her.
Joshua Boyle made the claim during his testimony in an Ontario court on Tuesday.
Boyle, 36, is on trial for sexually assaulting his now-estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman, from October until December 2017.
He has pleaded not guilty to all 19 counts, which also include rape, assault, and unlawful confinement.
Boyle has also denied allegations that he drugged his wife with prescription medication to make her more compliant.
The alleged crimes took place after Boyle, Coleman, and their three children returned home to Ottawa after spending five years as prisoners of the Haqqani network, a pro-Taliban faction known for attacking Westerners.
The family was freed by Pakistani security forces.
In 2012, the couple was kidnapped while hiking through Afghanistan. Coleman, 34, was six months pregnant at the time.
After returning to North America, Boyle was arrested for abusing his wife.
But Boyle claimed on the witness stand this week that Coleman, who is an American national from Pennsylvania, was unstable, violent, and prone to angry outbursts, according to The Globe and Mail.
He denied claims by prosecutors that he hit, choked, or bit his wife while they lived together in the Canadian capital.
Boyle said that he decided to leave his wife while still in captivity in Afghanistan, but put off ending the marriage for the sake of the three children.
He said he planned to gradually end the relationship after returning to Canada.
Canadian prosecutors have accused Boyle of being controlling and obsessive toward his wife, which prompted her to flee their home in terror in the dead of winter in 2017.
Coleman testified that her husband hit her with a broom on her backside because she failed to satisfy him sexually.
On the witness stand, Boyle admitted to hitting Coleman with a broom, but denied that it had anything to do with sex.
He said that Coleman asked to be hit because she felt a sense of self-loathing after she hit one of the children.
‘She asked to be spanked with the broom,’ Boyle testified.
‘She was worked up and insistent.’
Boyle said that when his wife asked to be hit: ‘I shrugged and gave her a few half-hearted swats.’
‘It was not uncommon for her to ask to be spanked,’ he testified.
But Jason Neubauer, the Ontario crown prosecutor, pressed Boyle, accusing him of striking his wife out of anger.
‘You struck her hard with that broom, Mr. Boyle,’ Neubauer said on cross-examination.
‘You struck her seven or eight times.’
Boyle replied that he could not remember how many times he struck his wife.
He said that the blows were mild and that when his wife expressed discomfort, he stopped.
‘It was a ceremony, in her mind,’ he said.
Boyle said the hitting was aimed to please his wife and that he didn’t really enjoy it.
‘I was tired of indulging her fantasies,’ he told the court.
‘I was looking to get a divorce.’
Earlier this year, Coleman gave interviews to the American media in which she alleged that her husband raped her and forced her to have children against her will while they were in captivity.
In an interview with ABC’s Nightline, she told how he was a ‘Taliban sympathizer’ when they ventured to the region but became more abusive towards her than her captors after they were taken hostage when she was six months pregnant in 2012.
She also said that he forced her to have sex with him and that while she never physically resisted him, having to sleep with him was ‘abhorrent.’
‘Prior to captivity, I did want to have a family with Josh but during captivity, I was not given a choice as to whether or not we would have children in captivity, if they would have to go through that too.
‘That certainly not something I wanted for my children,’ she said.
Asked bluntly if she was raped, she said: ‘Yes. I am not saying that I physically struggled but I am saying that I found relations with him pretty abhorrent but I was not given a choice.
‘Not only was it psychological, it was physical, it was sexual. I was actually more afraid of him than of the captors,’ she said.
She also told how he had gone from claiming to want to get the ‘inside story’ of the Taliban from a journalistic perspective to sympathizing with the group.
‘He believed that the Taliban were misrepresented in the west, that he could get the real story.
‘Go places that nobody else could go. Suddenly its like he sort of dropped any pretense of being a pacifist.
‘It’s like, when we were no longer around westerners, he could sort of drop his neutrality,’ she said.
She says he forced her into meeting the people who would kidnap them and that she had no choice but to follow him because he was carrying all their money and passports.
She was six months pregnant at the time and they had been doing a tour of South Asia when he told her in 2012 they were going to ‘dip into’ Afghanistan.
‘He would always tell me, “I think they’re misrepresented in the West. I think they’re good people. When you meet them, you’re gonna see”.
‘So I saw. And they are, with the exception of my husband, the worst people that I’ve ever known in my life,’ she said.
Eventually, she said the captors began leaving them ‘alone’ but her husband was becoming increasingly violent.
Once back in Canada, she said he took on the role of her controller and captor.
‘He restricted pretty much everything. I had no freedom, as far as, you know, where I would go, who I would talk to, how I would dress, what I would say,’ she said.
‘I certainly felt like I was still a prisoner. There wasn’t actually a big change in my life from when we were still in Pakistan in the hands of the Haqqanis and when I was in the Embassy Suites Hotel [in Ottawa] with Josh,’ she said.
Boyle has denied being a Taliban sympathizer or raping his wife.