Sexual assault trial for former N.S. Mountie ends

Kevin O'Brien, a former Nova Scotia Mountie, is accused of assaulting a fellow officer. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)
Kevin O'Brien, a former Nova Scotia Mountie, is accused of assaulting a fellow officer. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice must now decide whether a retired Mountie is guilty of sexually assaulting another Mountie 29 years ago. Kevin William O'Brien was on trial this week on a single charge of sexual assault.

Crown and defence lawyers made their closing arguments Thursday.

O'Brien is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her Halifax apartment during a gathering of coworkers. The incident happened in the fall of 1994.

O'Brien's lawyer Stan MacDonald said his client "does not deny that there was an interaction and it was sexual in nature." But MacDonald added that it was "entirely consensual on her part."

According to both O'Brien and the woman, they went into the bathroom. In his version, O'Brien said she dragged him in and then tried to initiate sex, but nothing happened.

In her version, O'Brien pushed her into the bathroom and then sexually assaulted her.

MacDonald said the woman's account is simply not credible; that she described a physical encounter that would have been impossible for them to perform in the cramped space.

Earlier trauma as a Mountie

Crown Prosecutor Stephen Anstey said it's not surprising that the woman got some details wrong. He said she was concentrating on the pain and emotion she was experiencing, not the technical details of how it happened.

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, didn't remember the encounter until 2017 when she was undergoing therapy for PTSD. Her condition was attributed to other traumatic experiences she had while working as a Mountie. MacDonald said her recollections were constructs arising from the therapy and were not true memories.

Anstey disputed that interpretation and repeated concerns he voiced earlier in the trial about people being taken in by what he described as "rape myths." He said those include criticizing someone for not resisting, or for not reporting the encounter right away. The woman did not go to police until 2020 and O'Brien was not charged until 2021.

MacDonald said the woman did not recall some details of the incident until just before this trial, which he says further undermines her credibility.

Justice Denise Boudreau reserved her decision. She said there are many issues she needs to consider, including the various stereotypes and myths surrounding allegations of sexual assault.

The judge said she will "clearly lay out what I have considered and what I have not considered" in reaching her decision, which she will deliver at the end of May.