By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 6, 2024.
A former Lethbridge girl says she didn’t think she had any choice but to go with two men to a westside home, where minutes later the underage girl was sexually assaulted by a stranger and was begging him to stop.
The girl, who testified Monday during the first day of Ziyaad Noor’s trial in Court of King’s Bench, said that in June, 2021 she had been texting with two men, and one of the men, “Tony,” said they were coming to her home to pick her up. She said she didn’t want to go with them, but when Tony and Noor arrived she got into the vehicle.
They immediately handed her a cup of vodka, which she drank, then drove to Park Lake. About 20 minutes later the girl asked to go home, but when they got to Lethbridge the men said they were going to Tony’s house on the Westside.
“I was trying to tell them I didn’t want to go and that I had to be home, and they just kept driving me,” she told the judge.
The witness said that once they arrived at the house and tried to entice her inside, she protested, but felt compelled to go.
“I didn’t want to go to their house, I didn’t trust them, I didn’t feel safe,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t have a choice.”
They went into the house and she was taken to a room upstairs and told to lie down on the bed. Tony lied down beside her and moments later Noor took off her clothes, then his own, and sexually assaulted her.
She said Noor forced her face into the bed so forcefully, her glasses broke.
“I was screaming, begging him to stop.”
She said after Noor was done and left the bedroom, Tony continued to assault her. About 30 minutes later she was taken home.
During cross-examination by defence, the girl admitted the bedroom she was in was dark, and acknowledged she had told police it was actually “pitch black.” She said, however, she could still see Noor’s black-framed, rectangular glasses and the shape of his body.
Noor is one of eight men and two youth who were charged in August of 2021 with numerous sex-related offences. Police reported several men groomed a 15-year-old girl and took her to various locations where sex offences took place. Many of the individuals also engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and three additional victims came forward later in connection with the investigation.
Noor, who practiced medicine in Lethbridge and Calgary, was released from custody Aug. 24, 2021 on $10,000 bail, with the promise to pay that amount should he breach any of the several conditions attached to his bail. He pleaded not guilty in March of 2022, and elected to be tried in Alberta Court of Justice on several sex-related charges, including trafficking in persons, and a trial was later scheduled to run in January of last year.
However, during a hearing the previous December, Noor re-elected to be tried by a Court of King’s Bench judge and jury with a preliminary inquiry, and the provincial court trial was vacated. The preliminary inquiry, which was scheduled to a year ago, was also cancelled, and the Crown later announced it would proceed by direct indictment, which removes the option for a preliminary inquiry.
A preliminary hearing is typically held to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.
Although Noor was initially charged with sexual contact with a child, sexual counsel of a child, sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, sexual assault causing bodily harm, aggravated sexual assault, trafficking in persons, and being party to sexual assault, the Crown is proceeding on only three of the charges; sexual contact with a child, sexual interference and sexual assault of a person under the age of 16.
Monday’s hearing was cut short after defence said it had become aware of additional disclosure from the Crown’ office. The girl is set to continue testifying today and the trial is scheduled to run all week.