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Sexual assault trial begins for former Paradise mayoral candidate John Roberts

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Complainant testifies John Roberts harassed her and sexually assaulted her with a weapon

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Warning: Details in this story may be upsetting to some readers.

The man’s voice on the phone was slow and slurred, and hardly audible in the courtroom Monday.

“I love you, baby. And I’m sorry. Goodbye.”

The voice is alleged to be that of 51-year-old John Michael Roberts, businessman and 2017 mayoral candidate for the town of Paradise, in a phone call to a woman in February of last year.

The woman told a St. John’s court she had recorded the call in an effort to collect evidence for police. The RNC was already investigating Roberts for harrasing her at that point, she said.

“Why are you doing this to me? Why can’t you just say yes to the peace bond?,” the woman’s voice is heard saying repeatedly on the phone, after Roberts tells her he has taken pills. “I just want to be left alone,” she says.

“I’m just saying goodbye, honey. You’ll never see me again,” Roberts says. “I think the pills are kicking in.”

After a brief period of silence, Roberts continues. “I’m not going to be here tomorrow. The pills are going to take me now.”

That’s the last Roberts’ voice is heard in the phone call.

“John? John? John?,” the woman says, with no response. She’s heard telling him she’s going to hang up, then does. She then reportedly called the police to check on him.

The woman was the first person to testify as Roberts’ trial got underway Monday morning. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminally harassing her over a period of months early last year, as well as sexually assaulting her with a weapon — a beer bottle — during the summer of 2017.

The woman, who testified via video from a room down the hall, told the court she had first gone to the RNC in January of 2018, when she woke up one morning and found her car had been spray-painted with the words “Two-dollar whore.”

Her place of work and her mother’s vehicle had also been spray-painted, and a gas can had been left on her doorstep, she said.

“Why did you think (Roberts) was responsible?” asked prosecutor Nicole Hurley.

“Because he had tried calling me 20 or 25 times a couple nights before,” the woman replied. She had answered once, she said, and Roberts told her he had gotten his leg stuck in a bannister and he needed her help. She told him to call someone else. When she called him the next day to see how he had fared and told him there was no need to call her back later, Roberts grew angry, the woman testified.

The woman told the court of Roberts getting angry because she had plans with her family for Christmas dinner, and of child protection authorities calling her on Boxing Day, saying they had received a complaint from a man alleging she had left her child home alone.

After she bought a trip down south, Roberts surprised her a few days before she left when he told her he had bought himself the same trip. The woman said she and Roberts were sometimes on good terms, but those periods were short-lived and ended for good after the vandalism.

The woman said she eventually withdrew her peace bond application once police told her Roberts was likely going to be charged with harassment and would be ordered to have no contact with her. He kept calling her until about the end of March, she said, always from a blocked caller ID. She said she believed the calls were Roberts since he was on the other end of the line on the few times when she had answered the call, and he had always used a blocked number previously.

“He had told me before that if you have money you can get anybody to do anything. At first ... I just thought that he was trying to be powerful, but he’d always say that he could completely destroy me, that he had enough money to do whatever he wants,” she said, her voice cracking. “He said that he could get anybody to do whatever he wanted as long as he paid them. I didn’t want to be around anybody because I didn’t know what he was capable of.”

The woman said the night Roberts had sexually assaulted her, they had been having consensual sex which ended when he picked up a beer bottle. She cried as she described telling him twice to stop and physically trying to block him as he assaulted her.

The woman said she had called Roberts the next day to tell him what he had done was wrong and she was still in discomfort, and he joked about it.

“He said I was going to have to go to the gynecologist to get the Molson Canadian label out,” the woman testified.

The woman will be back on the stand this morning, when she will be cross-examined by defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan. Sullivan indicated in court Monday she plans to argue the woman is fabricating her evidence.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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