October 21st, 2020

Woman says she was sexually abused many times as a girl by accused


By Shurtz, Delon on November 6, 2019.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A former southern Alberta woman was sexually abused countless times when she was a young girl, the woman testified Tuesday during the second day of her alleged abuser’s trial in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench.

The woman told court the accused, who was 18 at the time and well-known to her, repeatedly performed oral sex on her and touched her inappropriately between 1986 and 1987 when she was only about eight years old. When asked by the Crown how often the accused assaulted her, the woman couldn’t provide a number, but said it happened “many, many, many, many times.”

And while she knew it was wrong, she couldn’t tell anyone because it was a secret.

“I knew it was a secret, and I knew it was wrong, and I knew I didn’t want to do it,” she said. She admitted however, that even though she didn’t understand what was being done to her, it felt good, and that embarrassed her and made her angry with herself.

The accused, who can’t be named under a court-ordered publication ban to protect the identity of the complainants, faces four counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference in relation to three women, who were children living in southern Alberta at the time of the alleged offences between 1986 and 1993.

The Crown witness said she didn’t report the abuses until 2016 after she learned the accused, who is now 51, had been placed in a position of authority in his church. She said she reported him because she didn’t believe he was worthy to hold the position, that he still denied what he had done to two other girls, and claimed what he had done was not a big deal.

“It wasn’t simple child’s play, like (the accused) was saying,” she said.

The woman testified the assaults against her only stopped after the accused left on a mission for his church. Defence, on the other hand, maintains the accused never assaulted her when he was an adult.

The man was sentenced earlier this year to 60 days in jail – to be served on weekends – and 30 days of open custody for three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault against four girls in the 1980s when he was a youth. He admitted during his trial in January that he sexually touched two of the girls on multiple occasions, but he only tried once to touch a third girl on her buttocks, and he never touched a fourth, at all.

One of those girls was the Crown’s witness Tuesday. The other three – two of them are alleged victims – are also expected to testify during the two-week trial.

During cross-examination by Lethbridge lawyer Bob Bissett, the witness said that while she remembers being abused, she doesn’t know exactly when they occurred, and has to rely on dates calculated by her parents. She said the other girls were also abused, but admitted she believes that because they said they were.

The woman also acknowledged she received a letter from the accused while he was on his mission, apologizing for the “burden” he placed on her and asking for forgiveness. She sent him a letter in return in which she said she forgave him and looked forward to seeing him after his mission.

The witness said she doesn’t recall writing the letter, and testified she never really forgave him or believed that everything was OK.

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