Sexual assault acquittal 'sends women back 50 years,' says advocate
WARNING: This story includes graphic details some readers may find disturbing.
The complainant in the sexual assault trial of two former University of Ottawa hockey players told a Thunder Bay court she was reluctant to go to police, because she didn't want anyone to be wrongfully accused.
She also said on Tuesday in court that's why she wasn't truthful in her early interactions with police.
On her fourth day on the stand, the complainant was re-examined by the crown and said that nearly a month after the incident she was reluctant to be involved in a police investigation.
A friend of the young woman testified that without her friend's knowledge she brought the issue to school officials in Ottawa who eventually brought it to police.
Guillaume Donovan and David Foucher are facing sexual assault charges related to the incident that allegedly happened in 2014 at a hotel in Thunder Bay, Ont., while the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees hockey team was there for a game.
In previous testimony, the woman described the assault as two men forcing themselves on her, after they interrupted consensual sex she was having with a different Gee-Gees player.
Court has been shown text messages from the days following the incident where the complainant told the player who had been her consensual partner that she wasn't sure who the men in the room were.
Crown lawyer Marc Huneault asked the complainant why she had stayed in touch with the player.
"I didn't want anything to be told in the wrong way or untruthfully," she said. "I didn't want the people who did it to be wrongly accused, because I didn't know truthfully who they were."
Cross-examination questions identification
Earlier Tuesday morning, Celina Saint-Francois, the lawyer representing David Foucher, concluded her cross-examination of the complainant, raising questions about how the complainant had identified the captain of the Gee-Gees in the room.
Court had heard earlier that Foucher was captain of the Gee-Gees hockey team at the time of the Thunder Bay trip.
In earlier testimony, the young woman said she remembered his red hair and his French accent.
After Saint-Francois raised the question, the complainant said there were other French-speakers in the hotel and among players on the team. Saint-Francois suggested to the complainant there was only one man involved in the incident and that the man the complainant alleged had penetrated her had entered and exited room with a group without touching the complainant.
The woman firmly and repeatedly said no to that suggestion.
Friend picked her up at hotel
The court has heard previously that the young woman, was distraught after the incident and called a friend to come get her. That friend also took to the stand Tuesday.
Crown lawyer Anya Kortenaar asked the woman – who cannot be named due to the publication ban protecting the complainant's identity – about the complainant's condition when they spoke on the phone around 3:15 a.m.
"She was hysterically crying," the friend said, and the complainant was not speaking but "gasping for air."
The friend drove to the hotel to pick up the complainant and refused to leave until she told her what had happened in the hotel room. She said it took multiple tries to get a story out of her.
The friend then went into the hotel to try to talk to the Gee-Gees coach, against the wishes of the complainant, she told court.
The complainant followed her in to the hotel and argued with her, but left when the coach was on his way down, she said.
She said she told the coach there had been a sexual assault involving a friend of hers, but didn't name her friend, and she exchanged contact information with the coach.
She said she then took the complainant to the hospital, even though the complainant wanted to go home. The friend told court she felt she had a duty to help the complainant.
Secretly took photos of complainant's phone
The friend said they stayed at the hospital for more than two hours until 7 a.m., waiting for the sexual assault nurse to come, but were told she was not on call and they left without an exam being administered.
While the complainant was sleeping, the friend testified she took a photo of Tinder messages on the complainant's phone.
She said she didn't tell the complainant that she had done that.
In the coming days and weeks, she pursued the issue by trying to contact the University of Ottawa's coach, athletics director and president.
"I felt it was the right thing to do," she told court. "My own moral compass wanted me to pursue it further."
She said she didn't identify the complainant and would respect if she didn't want to pursue legal action.
However, she told court, the University of Ottawa eventually went to Ottawa police, who went to Thunder Bay police.
The friend said she gave police the photo she had taken of the complainant's phone from and asked them not to tell the complainant she had given it to the investigators.
The complainant confronted the friend when she found out police were involved from the Gee-Gee player she had met on Tinder.
"She was not happy. She was raising her voice, shouting, yelling… Probably felt betrayed, I would estimate," she told court. "Frustrated, especially finding out through a third-party source."
Cross-examination of friend
Christian Deslauriers, the defence lawyer for Guillaume Donovan, asked the friend about what she told police had happened in the hotel. The friend said she relayed what she had been told by the complainant on the night of the event.
In her police statement, the friend had told police the complainant's sexual partner had been pushed off of her and four to six of his teammates had "taken turns" sexually assaulting her, Deslauriers said.
In that statement, the friend had said the complainant had fought off the other members of the team.
The friend agreed she had taken that version of events to the University of Ottawa and police and that the complainant had never explicitly revised her account with her.
Another Gee-Gee testifies
Mathieu Leduc, a former teammate of the accused, was called as the Crown's fourth witness Tuesday afternoon.
The team was partying and drinking a "good amount" on the night after they beat Lakehead University's Thunderwolves, he testified in French.
Leduc said he was in the hotel room next to Donovan's room partying after the team had returned from the bar, and was having drinks and watching TV with some of his teammates. He told court he heard a commotion from Donovan's room and opened the door connecting the rooms briefly to see Donovan's roommate in there with a woman in the dark.
Donovan entered the room Leduc was in with some teammates and they spoke for a while, Leduc said.
He said he later saw Donovan's go into his room and looked in to see Donovan and his roommate in the room. He said he couldn't make out where the woman was.
Donovan's roommate left the room and came into the adjoining room with his teammates. Leduc said he appeared to have been exerting himself.
Then Foucher and two other teammates who were naked except for boots came into the room where Leduc was and were goofing around, he said. He didn't recall when they undressed.
Foucher and the other naked players entered Donovan's hotel room, the teammate said.
Leduc said the third time he looked into Donovan's room, the lights were on with only Donovan was left in there, sitting on a bed. Donovan told Leduc the woman had left, Leduc told the court.
Defence will cross-examine the former Gee-Gee Wednesday morning.
Former Gee-Gees hockey coach Real Paiement is also expected to give his testimony Wednesday afternoon.
CBC Ottawa's Matthew Kupfer is in Thunder Bay covering the trial. You can review his live tweets here.