Witness contradicts evidence of N.S. woman accusing former Mountie of sexual assault
The Crown has closed its case in the sexual assault trial of a former Nova Scotia Mountie accused of assaulting a fellow officer.
The complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, spent nearly two full days in the witness box at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Dartmouth, testifying against Kevin O'Brien.
She said he assaulted her at a party in her Halifax apartment in the fall of 1994, shortly after she arrived in Nova Scotia to begin work as an RCMP officer.
On the woman's first day of testimony Monday, defence lawyer Stan MacDonald highlighted inconsistencies in her account of the alleged assault.
The woman has been diagnosed with PTSD and she testified that memories of the incident have come back to her in fragments after she underwent therapy — some as recently as just a few days ago. She did not remember the alleged assault until 2017 and didn't go to police until 2020. O'Brien, who is retired from the force, was charged in 2021.
MacDonald began the second day of the trial by questioning the woman about the self-defence training she received as a Mountie, and about the fact she held a black belt in martial arts.
Crown prosecutor Stephen Anstey objected to the line of questioning, saying it played into "rape myths' surrounding sexual assaults, in which a complainant's credibility is questioned if they don't resist.
MacDonald countered that his purpose in asking her about her training was to demonstrate that she didn't use it, because she didn't need to. He suggested her sexual encounter with O'Brien was consensual, and that she had initiated it, by pulling him into the bathroom of her apartment.
The woman vehemently denied that suggestion.
'It is a myth that people should struggle,' judge says
Justice Denise Boudreau made it clear she wasn't going to allow questions about why the woman didn't struggle.
"It is a myth that people should struggle," the judge said.
MacDonald questioned the woman about what she and O'Brien did after the alleged assault. She said she didn't see him again.
MacDonald then produced a photograph, showing the two of them together in her apartment. O'Brien is cradling an infant that another Mountie, David Williams, brought to the party.
The woman said she did not have a conversation with O'Brien and tried to avoid him as much as possible during her remaining years in Nova Scotia. She complained about O'Brien to their supervisors, but those complaints did not include the alleged sexual assault.
"I was trying not to think about it," the woman testified.
She described how, in 2017, her life was crumbling and she was in a downward spiral. She said it was only after she started undergoing therapy that she remembered the incident with O'Brien, describing it as a "flashback."
Accuser contradicted by witness
The Crown's final witness was the Halifax Regional Police officer who was assigned to investigate the woman's complaint against O'Brien. Det. Const. Sara Bennett said she talked to two other Mounties who attended the party. But because they didn't see anything, she said didn't take formal statements from them.
The defence opened its case by calling Williams, the Mountie who brought his infant son to the party. Williams contradicted the woman's testimony, saying the party was at the end of a night shift, early in the morning, not at night.
Williams testified that the woman was "pawing" at O'Brien's arm and then led him into the bathroom. Williams said they emerged a short time later and when he asked O'Brien what happened, he was told "nothing".
Williams said the Mounties on that shift gathered several times for social events as a unit and that both O'Brien and the woman attended those events.
The defence case continues on Wednesday.
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