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Defendant testifies in sexual assault trial

A 36-year-old man on trial for the sexual assault of a teenage girl didn’t mince his words on the stand Tuesday when asked by the Crown what he thought of the evidence before the court.

“It’s (the young woman’s) evidence and the Crown’s suggestion that you texted with (her) and subsequently had sex with her. What do you say to that?” prosecutor Mike Murray asked the man, who was testifying in provincial court in St. John’s.

“Not guilty,” the man quickly replied.

Tuesday was the second day of the man’s trial. He is charged with two counts each of sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching and sexual interference for allegedly having intercourse with a 15-year-old member of his family over Christmas in 2011. The pair were not blood-related.

The man told the court his conversation with the teenager was limited to “not much more than just (talk) around the Christmas tree,” and that he never had her phone number.

“Did you exchange any texts with her at all?” Murray asked him,

“Absolutely not,” he replied.

“Did any part of you touch (her)?” Murray asked.

“No,” the man answered.

When asked if he ever had intercourse with the girl, the man said no. He said that at the time of the alleged incidents, he was in excruciating pain from an umbilical hernia, which required emergency surgery two days later.

He said he never asked the girl her age, but replied “I assume so” when Murray asked him if he would have known at the time that she was 15.

On Monday, the young woman, now 20, and her mother both testified the man was one of a number of people to visit their home that Christmas. The young woman said she and the man had a “flirty” text conversation that escalated, and on Christmas Eve he went to her basement bedroom where the pair had vaginal, oral and anal intercourse. A similar incident happened the next night, she said.

The woman said she had not had a sexual encounter at that point in her life, and testified she was a willing participant.

By law, a 15-year-old is unable to give sexual consent to a person more than four years older than they are. The age of consent in Canada is 16 years, though there are situations where this is not applicable. If the sexual activity involves anal sex, payment or pornography, or involves a person who is in a relationship of trust or authority, the age of consent is 18 years.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Randy Piercey on Tuesday, the woman took exception to Piercey asking her if she enjoyed the intercourse, saying, “I’m not answering that. It’s not an appropriate question to me.”

She acknowledged a discrepancy between her statement to police two years ago and her testimony in court regarding whether or not she encouraged the man to come to her bedroom. She said she was “18 years old and very scared” at the time she gave her statement to police, and found that experience to be “very traumatic.”

The woman said the man left her family’s home on Boxing Day and they never saw each other in person after that, though they remained in contact via test messages and had plans to meet again. A few months later, she told another family member — the man’s brother — who called the man, angry, she said. She said she didn’t have any contact with the man after that phone call.

On the stand, the man said he never received such a phone call from his brother and never had plans to meet the young woman again.

The woman testified she told her mother about the incidents — and about incidents involving another family member — in 2015, at which point police were called.

The man’s trial will continue July 26.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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