20:48 GMT23 February 2020
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    In unsealed court documents, American Caitlan Coleman claimed that her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, with whom she was held hostage with for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, physically and emotionally abused her during that period.

    "J.B. [Joshua Boyle] regularly threatened to kill me by setting me on fire," Coleman said in an affidavit filed in June as part of a family court application to obtain custody of her children with Boyle. 

    Boyle and his wife were kidnapped during a hiking trip in Afghanistan in 2012, then held by the Haqqani terrorist group, which is linked to the Taliban. The couple was released in October 2017 along with their three children, who had been born in captivity, after Pakistani security forces killed the kidnappers in a shootout.

    Two months after his release, Boyle was charged with a slew of offenses ranging from sexual assault and forcible confinement to making death threats. His case includes charges regarding 19 offenses, among them death threats, sexual assault and providing incorrect information to police. He allegedly committed these offenses between October 2017, when he returned to Canada after being held hostage, and December, when he was detained. He will stand trial in Ottawa next spring for these charges.

    The allegations made by Coleman in the affidavits have also not yet been proven in court. Coleman currently lives in Pennsylvania with her children. She was allowed temporary sole custody of them by an Ottawa, Canada, court on July 23. Ontario Superior Court Justice Tracy Engelking also issued a restraining order keeping Boyle from his wife and children.

    "To say that the circumstances of this case are tragic in the extreme would be an understatement," Engelking said in the July 23 custody ruling, the Ottawa Citizen reported Tuesday.

    Boyle has denied Coleman's allegations, claiming, rather, that he was the one abused by Coleman. In his 23-page affidavit, Boyle states that Coleman assaulted him and neglected their children as a result of mental health issues. In addition, he alleges that she tried to push him in front of a Toronto Transit Commission subway before they were married.

    Engelking says there is no evidence that Coleman suffers from mental health issues that could impair her parenting abilities.

    "The court does have evidence, on the other hand, that C.C. [Coleman] is healthily and protectively parenting the children. Based on all of the evidence before me, I can find little to suggest C.C. would not be a suitable temporary custodian of the children," the judge said in court.

    Court documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen also provide more insight into the couple's relationship. 

    "We both enjoyed BDSM [bondage]," Boyle, a journalist, said in his affidavit. "We both wanted to travel by way of backpacking, and we both wanted to see the world."

    The two got married in July 2011, but soon separated. In March 2012, Coleman began divorce proceedings. However, one month later, the two reconciled and agreed to go backpacking through Central Asia, even after finding out that Coleman was pregnant with their first child. Coleman claims that she agreed to go on the trip as long as Boyle promised not to go to Afghanistan. Boyle revealed his true intentions to backpack through Afghanistan after they had already landed in the country so she would not "back out," Coleman alleges.

    "We crossed into Afghanistan for a short while in hopes that I could meet people who could give me a story I could write about," Boyle said in his affidavit. "I had hoped that personal experience in Afghanistan might help me to land more permanent journalism work."

    After they were taken hostage, Coleman claims that Boyle started to see her "as an enemy in his life."

    "The guards would separate us for a few days, weeks or months at a time," she said.

    "When we were returned together, J.B. [Boyle] would accuse me of betraying him by accepting niceties from the guards and not asking for him more often."

    "J.B. had uncontrolled rage, instituted corporal punishment of me, and struck me in a fit of rage," repeatedly telling her that she was "one of the worst people in the world" and that "a husband who kills his wife is justified," Coleman claims.

    In addition, she alleges that he hit her in the face "hard enough to break [her] cheekbone" after a disagreement in February 2017 and that he sometimes trapped her in a small shower stall for weeks at a time.

    Boyle, on the other hand, claims that Coleman neglected their children.

    "Multiple captors would reference me as the ‘wife and mother, husband and father' in the family, noting that all nurturing of the children was entirely upon me," he said in the affidavit, the Ottawa Citizen reported. 

    He admits to slapping his wife once in captivity when she tried to commit suicide by overdosing on stockpiled medication. He also claims that he often went days without food so that his children and wife had more to eat.

    Boyle further says that he had taught his children about their Canadian and Irish heritage.

    "Their knowledge of Canada was exhaustive enough to being able to identify northern islands such as Devon, Banks and Victoria on hand-drawn maps, a desire to move to the Magdalene Islands due to a Stompin' Tom Connors song they knew, bedtime stories often drawn from Road to Avonlea, and pretending to be Emily Carr when using mud to finger paint pictures of Salish homes (that always looked suspiciously like our cell, unsurprisingly)."


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