Saint John man found guilty of assault and sexual assault of two men in wheelchairs

·4 min read
Robert McCarthy testifed in his own defence in provincial court, but the judge called his version of events 'outlandish.'  (Facebook - image credit)
Robert McCarthy testifed in his own defence in provincial court, but the judge called his version of events 'outlandish.' (Facebook - image credit)

A 72-year-old Saint John man has been found guilty of assaulting one young man in a wheelchair and sexually assaulting another.

Robert McCarthy will return to provincial court on March 2 for sentencing.

During trial, the court heard that McCarthy pushed one young man out of his wheelchair and then threw the wheelchair at him.

In the other case, McCarthy made lewd and suggestive comments to another young man in a wheelchair before following him to his apartment. Once there, he touched the man's groin area.

McCarthy pleaded not guilty to both charges and testified in his defence at trial.

Judge Kelly Winchester said she didn't believe McCarthy's version of events, describing it as "outlandish."

The 27-year-old victim of the sexual assault said he met McCarthy by chance in the spring of 2020 at Brunswick Square. He said McCarthy remembered a business he operated as a teenager, and that McCarthy offered to invest $10,000 in the business. He said McCarthy kissed him on the cheek before leaving.

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They had a chance meeting the next day at a pizza place uptown, and McCarthy followed the man to his apartment. McCarthy told the young man, who has spina bifida, that he had a "dirty dream" about him, said Winchester, who recounted the trial testimony during her decision.

McCarthy told the man he made him "horny."

Winchester said the victim was uncomfortable with the exchange. The judge said she got the sense the victim felt "powerless" to do anything about it. He believed the only thing he could do was leave his own apartment and go to Brunswick Square.

The very next day, McCarthy showed up at the man's apartment.

Winchester recounted the victim's testimony that McCarthy touched his private parts and told him, "You make me so horny."

The man again left his own apartment and travelled around various uptown streets before returning to the apartment.

Winchester said McCarthy's story about only having one encounter with the man was not believable. He said he met the man once and was invited to his apartment. He said he offered $5,000 in exchange for a massage "to his lower extremities."

Victim relieved at verdict

The victim in that case, who cannot be named, said he was relieved by the guilty verdict.

His mother said "relief" doesn't begin to cover how she feels.

"This consumed almost a year of our life, and it will consume my son's life, probably for the rest of his life. … So yeah, like, a million pounds has been taken off our shoulders for sure."

The victim's mother said there is no doubt in her mind that McCarthy targeted young men in wheelchairs.

"None. None. And I think that's what makes it so sick … This predator is choosing and grooming young men in wheelchairs … I mean, how low can someone be?"

Wheelchair thrown at other victim

The victim of the other assault, who also uses a wheelchair, has cerebral palsy.

On May 23, 2020, he got into an argument with McCarthy while he waited for someone to pick him up.

He testified that McCarthy took three swings at him, none of which connected. He said McCarthy then pushed him out of his wheelchair and threw the chair at him.

Testifying at trial, McCarthy admitted to being "enraged." He denied swinging at the man or throwing the wheelchair at the other man. He said once the man was on the ground, the wheelchair rolled toward him, and he pushed it as a "reflex" action and not deliberately.

But in her decision, Winchester said she didn't believe McCarthy's denials. At trial, when he was confronted with a video of the incident that showed the chair didn't roll in his direction, he changed his story.

She said it was "unmistakable" that McCarthy pushed the wheelchair and did it deliberately and intentionally.

Winchester also noted the testimony of the man who was there to pick up the victim and witnessed McCarthy throw the chair.

McCarthy was also charged with breaching an undertaking and failing to appear in court but was found not guilty of both.

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to enter a plea on another sexual assault charge. He also has a trial scheduled for common assault on Feb. 18.

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