June 19, 2017 2:38 pm
Updated: June 19, 2017 6:15 pm

Trial begins for former Calgary bus driver charged with sexual assault of teen

Paul Rene Desmarais, 61, is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference with a child under 16 and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.

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The trial is underway for a former City of Calgary bus driver accused of sexual misconduct.

Paul Rene Desmarais, 63, faces counts of sexual assault, sexual interference with a child under 16, and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.

READ MORE: Trial date set for former Calgary bus driver accused of sexual misconduct

Police said Desmarais befriended a 14-year-old girl in September 2007. Officers allege she was a regular on his route.

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They believed he “groomed” her to get her alone on the buses.

“We began talking every Monday through Friday,” the woman, who is now 24, told court Monday. “At the start, it was just small talk. He had mentioned he was about to become a granddad and that his daughter was having a baby around that time.”

“As time went on, I started seeing him as someone I could talk to,” she said. “Someone who listened, who cared about what I had to say. I saw him as a caring adult.”

But in time, she said the relationship changed, including one day when they were the only ones left on the bus at a terminus point.

“When we got there, he pulled out a camera and began showing me photos that were on it,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking too much of this. The first photo was him with his dog, nothing too particular. But then eventually he came to a photo where he was naked and he was lounging on what seemed like a La-Z-Boy and it was just shocking.”

“I said to him ‘put that away, I respect you too much.’”

She said he complied and put the camera away. But after that, she said the nature of their conversations changed, becoming more sexual in nature and in time she alleges Desmarais began to touch her breasts and genitalia while he was driving.

“It was very opportunistic,” she said.

Court heard that Desmarais told the woman he was scheduled to change routes as a bus driver at the end of December. On the final day he was slated to drive the route, the woman said he had told her to show up early.

“The bus was very full when I got on,” she said. “It emptied out in a few minutes and it was just the two of us. Paul parked the bus. He went to the back and stripped down completely naked and I remember being at the front of the bus saying, ‘come back.’ I was really scared, really scared of being caught.”

“I joined him at the back [of the bus] and he really believed we were going to have sex on the bus. I wasn’t going to do that… he didn’t force anything on me, he wasn’t pushy about it. He kind of put his clothes back on and went back to the front of the bus and started driving again.”

The woman said she only saw Desmarais once during January and February of 2008, but it was on a route not easily accessible from where she lived.

READ MORE: Former Calgary Transit bus driver charged with sexual assault of teenage passenger

In the spring of 2008, the woman said she started to ride on a route driven by Desmarais on a regular basis once again. In June of that year, she said she went to Desmarais’ home where she alleges he sexually touched her and she performed oral sex on him.

“It just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel good.”

Officers were made aware of the accusations in November 2014 and announced the arrest of Desmarais in February 2015.

On Tuesday, the defence will cross-examine the woman. The trial is slated to run for four days this week.

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