Complainant testifies at sexual assault trial of former Bridgewater police chief
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A woman has testified in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday that John Collyer, the former chief of police for Bridgewater, sexually assaulted her.
She told Justice Mona Lynch in Bridgewater, N.S., that she and Collyer had gone for a drive in May 2016 when he asked her if she had ever had an orgasm.
When she told him she hadn’t, she alleged that he put his hand between her legs, digitally penetrated her, and licked his fingers afterward, telling her she “tastes sweet.”
The woman — now 20 — was 17 years old at the time. Certain details of her testimony are under a publication ban to protect the complainant’s identity.
“I felt hurt,” the woman testified, taking the stand for the first time on the fourth day of the trial’s proceedings.
“It was someone I trusted and looked up to as a fatherly figure.”
Collyer is charged with sexual assault and exploitation for interactions he had with the then-teen between April and July 2016. The allegations against him have not been proven, and in court dates to come, he’s expected to testify in his own defence.
In an emailed statement, the Town of Bridgewater declined to reveal whether it was paying for Collyer’s legal fees, given that he was an employee at the time of the alleged offences.
“The Town cannot comment on personnel matters, including terms of settlement on termination of employment for any employee,” wrote chief administrative officer Tammy Wilson.
Both the woman and her mother testified this week that she had a very “good” relationship with Collyer, who had been in the family’s life for several years.
The woman testified that she cried after the alleged assault took place, and didn’t tell anyone for months out of fear that no one would believe her.
The court heard Wednesday that Collyer and the woman, then a teen, had an active relationship on Facebook, as well.
“I wanted somebody to be charged for that,” the mother testified on Thursday, referring to what she described as “sexual” messages sent from Collyer’s Facebook account to her daughter.
Screenshots of those messages read in court suggest Collyer thought the girl was “hot,” wanted to see her topless, and wanted to send her “dirty limericks.”
Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) investigator Gord Vail testified on Wednesday that hundreds of messages were deleted from the conversation thread between Collyer and the complainant by the time he retrieved the raw data from Facebook.
Of 596 messages, 536 were deleted from Collyer’s thread, and all were deleted from the complainant’s thread. The complainant later testified that Collyer instructed her to delete them, but she only did so months later, after the investigation against him began and a lawyer told her she could do so.
That data doesn’t provide insight on who deleted the messages and why, but Vail told the court that missing among the 60 messages remaining in Collyer’s thread was all the content that could be considered “sexual in nature” or “inappropriate.”
WATCH: Former police chief goes on trial for sexual assault
In cross-examination, Bright established that the mother had long held concerns about her daughter’s Internet activity, and often logged into her Facebook account to check up on her.
The trial is now running a few days behind schedule, putting pressure on counsel and the court system to wrap up the legal battle before the fall.
According to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Jordan decision, an accused person facing an indictable offence has the right to be tried within a “reasonable time” — in this case, 30 months.
That period will end on Nov. 3, 2019, and additional court dates have been scheduled in September.
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