Closing arguments in U of S sexual assault trial
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Watch above: closing arguments heard in Saskatoon sex assault trial
SASKATOON- After a week’s worth of testimony in June including that of the two accused, the compliant and 17 crown witnesses, a sexual assault trial in Saskatoon has come to a close.
On Monday, closing arguments were made by senior Crown prosecutor Buffy Rodgers in the case along with arguments made by Mark Vanstone on behalf of Farouk Sadiq and Kim Armstrong who represented co-accused Butchang Nkem .
The pair is accused of drugging and raping a woman who was 20 at the time on New Year’s 2012 at a university residence building in McEown Park.
Both Sadiq and Nkem have pleaded not guilty and say the sex was consensual.
“This is a case that is extremely fact specific, the issues are credibility and a decision that the judge alone will have to make,” said Vanstone.
During closing arguments, Vanstone argued the fundamental problem with the Crown’s case was the reliability of their key witness, the alleged victim, who testified to having gaps in her memory from that night.
“Some two-and-half-hours of activity and events, she can’t recall, she can’t remember.”
The defence for Sadiq would argue that there was no evidence to support the woman was drugged that evening.
“The only drug administered to her was cocaine and that was voluntary.”
During the trial, Farouk Sadiq testified that the alleged victim initiated the idea of sex in the entrance of the student residence. A surveillance video rolling as the group arrived post bar and after-party shows Sadiq and the alleged victim interacting. At one point, defence pointed out what appears to be a kiss between the two.
“We can listen with our eyes,” argued Vanstone in court Monday, “We don’t see high levels of impairment that would accompany memory loss.”
Justice Richard Danyliuk would be quick to point out that “she is still entitled up to and in the bedroom to say ‘I’ve changed my mind,'” saying the guts of the case hinged on what happened in the bedroom.
Defence would agree no means no and maintained sex between Sadiq and the complainant was consensual.
During the trial, Sadiq testified to being led into a bedroom by the woman where they had sex twice. He testified to leaving the woman twice that night momentarily to get condoms and go to the washroom. Both times he said she was awake and he never drugged her.
Defence for Butchang Nkem argued the case came down to credibility.
“The video is glaring, she can walk,” said Armstrong.
Nkem, 25, testified to knocking on the door to the bedroom when Sadiq momentarily left to grab a camera inside. He testified the woman initiated oral sex and intercourse and that he asked her twice if she was sure before having vaginal sex with her.
Calling their version of the evening a “concocted pornographic fantasy,” Rodgers said there was no evidence that the woman fabricated the sexual assault, no motive and no evidence to suggest she was imagining things.
The Crown argued the woman was forthcoming with how limited her memory was of the night and called the woman coming forward and admitting to cocaine use before the preliminary hearing shows “honesty, strength and character.”
On day one and two of the trial, the complainant testified that she was drugged and rape three times, twice vaginally and once anally. In such severe pain, the woman testified to having trouble passing urine the next morning and would go to see her doctor on Jan. 10, 2012 to complain about rectal bleeding.
There was no evidence at the time of rectal tearing but both doctors that testified said injuries as a result of sexual assault aren’t unusual.
The Crown argued that a significant piece of information missing from Sadiq’s testimony were how the complainant boots came off. The woman testified to seeing them on the floor the next morning with her tights and that it was a lengthy process to get them on and off.
The Crown also pointed out that the woman was unfamiliar with the apartment and therefore could have never led Sadiq to a bedroom.
Sadiq minimized his level of intoxication said the Crown, the victim’s level of intoxication and his version of events seemed rehearsed.
The Crown would then turn it’s attention to Nkem’s testimony calling it casual and cavalier, saying it didn’t appear as though he was taking the proceedings seriously.
The Crown would also asked that when the judge to review the surveillance video that he look at the woman’s face.
“She looks unwell and 25 years older,” said Rodgers.
Noting that while the video may show the woman walking, it did not demonstrate what’s going in her mind.
The fate of Sadiq and Nkem now rests in the hands of Justice Danyliuk, who will deliver his verdict on Sept. 16.