July 18th, 2024

Man found guilty of sexually assaulting underage girl


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who had sex with an underage girl while she was passed-out drunk, has been found guilty of sexual assault and will be sentenced later this year.

Justice Kristin Ailsby convicted Morgan Joseph Tetreault this week in Lethbridge court of justice, three months after the offender stood trial and testified that even though he and the girl wanted to have sex, they never did.

However, the girl, who was 17 at the time and cannot be identified under a court-ordered publication ban, testified the assault occurred while she was extremely intoxicated and while she was passed out.

Ailsby said she reviewed the evidence from the trial several times to make sense of what happened on the evening of the assault some years ago, and accepted the girl’s evidence over Tetreault’s, concluding the girl was sexually assaulted.

“On the whole, I found (the complainant) to be a very credible witness,” Ailsby said.

On the other hand, Tetreault testified with little conviction, Ailsby said. His evidence was inconsistent and he was unclear on what exactly happened.

He also admitted to a mutual friend in a text message that he sexually assaulted the girl, then he changed his story.

“He admitted that he made his admission before the police were involved, and it was only after he knew that criminal charges were imminent, that he changed his story to deny the assaults.”

During trial the girl told court she had been drinking most of the day before she invited Tetreault, who was 20 at the time, to her house, where they spent some time on her couch kissing and touching each other.

The girl occasionally went into the kitchen to pour herself shots of vodka, and even though Tetreault had one or two shots, he never drank enough to become intoxicated.

While the two were making out on the couch, Tetreault stood up and led the unsteady girl to her bedroom.

“(She) specifically remembered how difficult the short walk was because she was so impaired,” Ailsby said. “She could barely stand, and when she went through the door jamb to her bedroom, she struck her right shoulder hard because she couldn’t maintain her balance.”

Tetreault had to help the girl onto her bed, where he began to have sex with her.

“She then passed out,” Ailsby said. “Her next memory was waking up some time later.”

Ailsby said the girl realized what had happened, became distressed and began having a panic attack.

Tetreault later admitted to a friend what had happened.

“Mr. Tetreault acknowledged very clearly that he sexually assaulted (the girl) on the night at issue.”

Tetreault admitted at trial that he and the girl were making out on the couch then headed to the bedroom. He testified the girl had not been drinking and was not intoxicated, and suggested she was a willing participant and encouraged him to have sex.

“He explained he was reluctant to do this and told her so,” Ailsby said. “He testified, ‘I told her that we shouldn’t be doing this,’ and that ‘we should be more than this.'”

She became upset and left the room while he stayed and fell asleep. He was later asked to leave.

“When cross-examined about the text conversion Mr. Tetreault had with (his friend) about that night, Mr. Tetreault testified that the reason he said ‘sorry,’ the reason that he admitted to sexually assaulting (the girl), wasn’t because he actually assaulted her. Rather, he wanted to restore peace in their friend group, and he believed that saying sorry for something he didn’t do would accomplish that end.”

Ailsby concluded that the girl was grossly intoxicated at the time while Tetreault remained sober throughout the night. After a period of time in which the two were kissing and touching, Tetreault “chose to move that touching and kissing into the bedroom.”

He had to help her walk to the bedroom because she was too drunk to do it on her own, then he removed his clothes and her’s.

“Once in the bedroom, (she) did not ever communicate consent to sexual touching of any kind by way of words or any contact. Mr. Tetreault did not ever ask (her) to have sex at any point during their night together; no steps were ever taken by Mr. Tetreault to confirm (her) degree of sobriety, (her) ability to provide consent, or (her) actual consent.”

Tetreault was not sentenced following Ailsby’s decision, but she adjourned the matter to April 2 for a sentencing hearing. She also revoked his bail and ordered a pre-sentence report to provide the court with Tetreault’s personal circumstances and background to help determine a fit sentence.

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biff

from our legal perspective, 17 is not underage