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Testimony wraps up in sexual assault trial

The teenage complainant in a sexual assault trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court was firm Tuesday as she summed up her responses to the defence lawyer’s line of questioning.

“Just because I lied about a prank doesn’t mean I’d lie about someone sexually assaulting me,” the 16-year-old told the court in St. John’s.
Tuesday saw the end of testimony in the trial of Claude Parsons, 63, who is charged with sexually assaulting the girl at a barbecue party at a cabin in Conception Bay North two years ago. Parsons allegedly fondled the girl underneath her clothes three times over the course of the night and into the early morning.

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Speaking via video link from another room in the courthouse in St. John’s, the girl spent most of the day under cross-examination by lawyer Rosellen Sullivan, who attempted to cast doubt on her memory and credibility by pointing out inconsistencies in her statements to police, during the preliminary inquiry and at trial, and by bringing up charges the girl is currently facing herself.
The teenager is charged with three counts of mischief in connection with an unrelated incident a year ago, in which she and her then-boyfriend are alleged to have contacted the girl’s mother and claimed the girl had died after being hit by a car. Police and emergency personnel attended the scene of the reported accident, and a portion of the road was closed to traffic for a period of time as a result. 
“Obviously you are very much alive, so that was a false complaint to police, right?” Sullivan asked the girl.
“Yes,” she replied, saying the prank was her ex-boyfriend’s idea.
“I’m going to suggest that this (sexual assault) didn’t happen to you at all,” Sullivan said, alleging the girl was angry at Parsons and his wife for contacting the then-Department of Child, Youth and Family Services about her family. “I think you never expected it to go this far, and you certainly never expected to be here.”
“OK. You think it never happened. Whatever,” the girl replied. 
“I know what Claude did to me.”
Justice Rosalie McGrath gave specific instructions to the jury on how the information about the teen’s unrelated charges was to be used, reminding them the matter is still before the court and she has not been convicted.
The complainant’s younger sister also took the stand Tuesday, the last witness to testify at trial.
Sullivan and Crown prosecutor Paul Thistle will give their closing remarks Wednesday afternoon, after which the jury will head into deliberations.
Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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