An Edmonton nightclub consultant has been found guilty of five of the 13 counts of sexual assault that he faced in a trial that spanned several months.
A jury of five men and five women deliberated for more than two full days on incidents that took place between 2010 and 2016.
The verdict was announced in an Edmonton courtroom Thursday morning.
McKnight, who appeared in court wearing a grey suit, showed no expression in the prisoner’s box as each of the 13 verdicts was read. The jury found him not guilty in eight of the incidents.
The justice said McKnight could remain out on bail, explaining that McKnight is not a flight risk, does not represent a danger to the public and did not have a previous criminal history.
A date for sentencing will be set on Feb. 7.
“We always knew this was going to be a difficult case to win and to run the table, essentially, on 13 counts,” said McKnight’s defence lawyer Dino Bottos, adding an application had previously been made to separate the one trial with 13 counts into different trials.
“Sexual assault cases often are ‘he said, she said.’ But this case turned out to be ‘he said, they said.’ Thirteen women, 12 complainants came forward, plus their friends and that’s why it was going to be a tough battle to win it all.”
Bottos spoke to media following the verdict as McKnight and McKnight’s mother stood beside him. McKnight did not speak during the news conference.
“Matthew McKnight’s name was blackened for a long time now and we knew that this was going to have an effect. We did our best. We brought every witness conceivable that was available to show that Matthew was innocent,” Bottos said.
The defence lawyer said he is considering an appeal. He also said that he is still trying to make sense of how the jury came to their verdicts on each count.
“I don’t have a comment on the merits of the verdicts right now,” he said.
Bottos said his client is “saddened” by the outcome of the trial.
“He’s trying to make sense of the verdicts based on the evidence that was brought to bear for the defence. For one case, he, plus five other witnesses, testified how a certain woman could not have been drugged. The jury didn’t buy the accounts of six witnesses for the defence, so that’s all I’m going to say about that,” he said.
The Crown declined to comment on the verdict.
In his closing arguments, Bottos scrutinized each of the incidents in question and had argued each of the encounters was consensual and not forced.
“This case is based on credibility. That has to weigh heavily in your minds in your deliberations,” he told the 10-person jury.
The Crown, in its closing arguments, had called into question McKnight’s memory of the nights in question. McKnight had called them typical nights, but the Crown said McKnight sounded like a video recording, that his accounts were too descriptive and, therefore, were unbelievable.
Prosecutor Katherine Fraser told the jury the level of detail of these nights were carefully woven, and called McKnight’s descriptions of the events a script.
The Crown also went through each complainants’ testimony and circumstantial evidence they provided, and said there are many details that line up with the women who came forward.
–with files from Sarah Komadina