May 21st, 2024

Woman testifies as sexual assault trial begins


By Delon Shurtz on November 9, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 20-year-old Lethbridge woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a man after he gave her and a friend a ride home from the bar nearly two years ago, sobbed as she struggled to testify during the accused’s trial Monday.
The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified in Lethbridge provincial court that she and her friend went to a bar on Feb. 7, 2020, and after she had a few drinks she went outside to smoke a cigarette. She doesn’t remember much after that, she testified, and just wanted to go home.
Her friend suggested a man with whom she had been talking could give them a ride home, and when they arrived the man, Sohil Bindra, helped her into her residence. Although she was unable to remember details of the event, she recalled collapsing onto her livingroom floor and Bindra carrying her over his shoulder to her bedroom.
The accused and her friend then left, but Bindra returned later, she said, and after she asked him what he was doing, he took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her. The woman said she couldn’t stand or feel anything, and earlier in her testimony said she believed her condition was not from drinking alcohol. She said when she awoke the following morning, her house keys and cellphone were missing. 
Bindra is charged with housebreaking and commit sexual assault, sexual assault, and administering a noxious substance. He also faces charges of sexual assault and administering a noxious substance in relation to a second woman; sexual assault in relation to a third woman; and sexual assault and administer a noxious substance in relation to a fourth woman.
All for women are expected to testify during the trial.
Bindra, who also faces two charges of drug possession, is scheduled to stand trial next month for similar charges against another woman, and again in January for sex offences against a sixth woman.
The accused was scheduled to begin a 14-day trial in March in relation to all six complainants, but Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette applied to have the charges, along with the six complainants, separated into three trials to avoid prejudicing the judge. Ouellette said at the time he believes it would be unfair to his client to have the same judge hear similar testimony from six women, stemming from separate incidents.
Bindra initially faced a single charge of housebreaking and two counts of sexual assault in relation to one woman, and had been released on bail. However, more charges were added later after five more women came forward and said they had also been sexually assaulted. One of the alleged assaults goes back to July 2017.
The accused was taken into custody in March of last year when he attended a court hearing and was subsequently denied bail. He pleaded not guilty the same month to 14 charges.
The Crown is expected to call about 16 witnesses during it’s week-long case, before defence begins its case. The trial is scheduled to conclude Nov. 19.

Follow @DShurtzHerald on Twitter

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