By Lethbridge Herald on February 26, 2021.
A Lethbridge judge is expected to give his decision next month on whether a man sexually assaulted a woman while she was passed out in his bedroom in 2019.
Justice Vaughan Hartigan reserved his decision following Ivan Iain Palmer’s trial earlier this month, but is set to announce on March 31 in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench whether he finds the accused guilty of one count of sexual assault.
The woman, who can’t be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, testified during trial she and her girlfriend were at Palmer’s northside residence Nov. 2, 2019, where they visited, watched TV and drank heavily. Eventually the woman became so intoxicated she had to be helped to a couch in Palmer’s bedroom, where she passed out and her girlfriend and Palmer’s wife covered her with a blanket.
The woman testified that when she woke up later, someone was touching her, and her pants and underwear had been pulled down to her ankles. At first she thought she might have dreamed or imagined it, or that her girlfriend had touched her. But when her girlfriend denied it, the woman realized it must have been Palmer because he was the only other person in the room.
Palmer told court he never touched the woman, and that sometime after she had been placed on the couch, he went to the kitchen to heat up some food, and returned to the bedroom where he sat on the corner of his bed near the couch and turned on the TV. He said the woman awoke with the noise of NETFLIX starting, and, with a panicked look on her face, asked, “where am I, what’s going on?”
Defence maintains there is reasonable doubt as to whether the woman actually felt anyone touch her, and if someone had, it could have been any of the other adults in the home, particularly the woman’s girlfriend. Lethbridge lawyer Greg White suggested the complainant may even have pulled down her own pants.
“She was so drunk she could have done it herself,” he said during his closing arguments Feb. 9.
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